The Parramatta Eels needed a good start against the Melbourne Storm and they went toe-to-toe with the heavyweights before coming away with a win.
Led by a double from star Fijian winger Maika Sivo, the Eels defeated the Storm 16-12 at Bankwest Stadium, a bogey side of theirs for years.
As torrential rain peppered the players for much of the game, the Eels showed grit and composure to match Melbourne’s intensity.
The Eels were forced into a late change when Waqa Blake was ruled out with a calf injury, forcing Marata Niukore into centre.
As the two sides traded blows, the completion rate of both was impressive given the conditions.
The Eels would score first with Sivo grabbing the first of his two tries.
A bomb from Dylan Brown was right on the money as Sivo flew high, nabbed the ball in mid-air over George Jennings and muscled his way through a defender to score.
Not to be outdone, the Storm showed their resolve and temerity when they levelled it up just before the break.
Reimis Smith was the try-scorer when he cut back inside and capitalised on a gap to slice through and score his first Storm try.
The Eels would then go down to 16 men when Ryan Matterson was forced off with a HIA and did not return.
Storm back-rower Felise Kaufusi was placed on report for dangerous contact, with replays showing his elbow slammed down on Matterson’s head.
The Eels long kicking game wore the Storm down and it paid off as the Eels took the lead for a second time.
Reed Mahoney, who has enjoyed a blistering start to 2021, took the line on and spotted a barnstorming Junior Paulo who barged over for his second try of the season.
The Storm refused to go down, though, and a ricochet went their way that resulted in a try for Justin Olam.
As the time left in the game dwindled, a bomb from 40m was put up by Mitch Moses.
Who was there to pluck the ball from thin air and score it? Maika Sivo.
Outjumping Jennings a second time, it sealed the win and the Eels fans went raucous at Bankwest.
After putting in a rare 80-minute performance, Eels coach Brad Arthur says his side needs that sort of game every week.
“If we want to be the sort of team they are and challenge, we need to make sure we do that every week, it doesn’t matter who we play,” said Arthur.
“We need to have the attitude that’s how we play.”
Effort wise, Storm coach Craig Bellamy lauded his side’s effort but admits that they are still learning to play without Cameron Smith.
“Without Cameron [Smith] there we’re still learning our way a little bit; we lost our way last week a little bit too,” said Bellamy.
“Smithy would be picking them up out there, that’s still a part we need to get right, what he’s brought us in a game like that.
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Maika Sivo (PAR)
2. Marata Niukore (PAR)
1. Nelson Asofa-Solomona (MEL)