Top of the table classic between Eels and Panthers

In this battle between two unbeaten sides, Parramatta welcomed Penrith to BankWest Stadium to see who would go to the top of the table at the end of the night.

Parramatta were the first to take some control of the game, as they peppered the Panthers defensive line.

Mitchell Moses high kick towards Josh Mansour and Blake Ferguson got to the ball first and pushed the ball back to Ryan Matterson who looped around and scored in the corner.

However, Ferguson pushed Stephen Crichton into the path of Mansour to stop the winger competing for the ball and the try was disallowed.

Just a few minutes later, Nathan Cleary chipped over towards Robert Jennings, and Dean Whare climbed above his opposite number to grab the ball.

However, Whare was deemed to have pushed off Jennings, taking him out of the contest for the ball and the try was ruled out.

With a quarter of the game gone and still no score, both teams were pushing for a way through their opponents.

A set restart for the Panthers on the ten metre-line allowed the visitors to attack a disjointed Parramatta defence.

The ball was pushed out to Brian To’o on the right-hand edge, and despite a wayward pass and a hint of double movement, the try was approved by the Bunker.

The game flowed from one of the field to the other over the remainder of the half, as both sides defensive qualities were put on show.

That changed in the 35th minute, as the Eels conceded two penalties to allow the Panthers to camp deep inside their half.

The ball was shifted from the right edge to the left, through a number of Penrith players and with Viliami Kikau running a dummy line, it sucked in the Eels defenders to create space on the edge for Josh Mansour to walk over in the corner.

HALF-TIME: Parramatta Eels 0-10 Penrith Panthers

After five minutes of pure physicality between the two sides, the Panthers looked to score their third try.

However, Api Koroisau was denied by Clint Gutherson when attempted to stretch the ball over his head.

Over the next 15 minutes, the Penrith defence held strong as the Eels looked to work their way back into the game.

Despite, forcing a goal-line drop-out from the Panthers, the resulting set from Parramatta was snuffed out by Brian To’o on the last tackle.

With a quarter of the game remaining, the Eels were still only ten points behind the visitors and were putting serious pressure on their opponent’s defence.

That pressure finally tolled in the 62nd minute, as Mitchell Moses and Ryan Matterson combined to give Waqa Blake a one-on-one with Stephen Crichton, and the big centre pushed away his opposite number and slid over.

Waqa Blake turned provider in the very next set, as he stepped past Crichton this time, and made a half break down the right.

Despite an ankle tap from Kikau, Blake managed to offload to Clint Gutherson who raced away to score.

Mitchell Moses converted to level the scores with 14 minutes remaining.

The Panthers seemed to have fallen apart, and a minute later, and Eels took the lead.

Nathan Brown made a line break to create a platform for the home side to attack, and after swinging the ball was swung right, Mitchell Moses dribbled a kick along the floor, and poor Caleb Aekins was fooled by the bounce of the ball which was perfect for the onrushing Ryan Matterson to score.

After winning a penalty in front of their own posts, Penrith pushed back upfield and forced a goal-line drop-out.

However, Cleary’s fifth tackle kick to Mansour was not quite enough to pick up a score.

Five minutes of the game remained, and it was still was anyone’s to win.

That soon changed when Caleb Aekins failed to collect a high kick from Moses, which gifted the Eels an attacking scrum.

From the resulting set, Parramatta set up perfectly for a one-pointer from Moses. However, the half-back hooked his chance and Penrith started a seven-tackle set on their 20-metre line.

With a minute remaining, the Panthers had the ball deep inside the Eels half and forced a repeat set.

Dylan Brown did his best to stop the Panthers and committed a professional foul, causing him to be sin-binned.

This left the Panthers with one play to try and level the game, but after some desperate defence from the Eels, Josh Mansour dropped the ball and Parramatta remained undefeated.

FULL-TIME: Parramatta Eels 16-10 Penrith Panthers


Squads


Parramatta Eels

Gutherson, Sivo, Jennings, Blake, Ferguson, Brown, Moses, Campbell-Gillard, Mahoney, Paulo, Lane, Matterson, Brown

Interchanges: Stone, Niukore, Evans, Terepo

Tries: Blake, Gutherson, Matterson

Goals: Moses (2/3)


Penrith Panthers

Aekins, Mansour, Whare, Crichton, To’o, Luai, Cleary, Tamou, Koroisau, Fisher-Harris, Kikau, Capewell, Yeo

Interchanges: Burton, Tetevano, Leota, Martin

Tries: To’o, Mansour

Goals: Cleary (1/2)


Referee: G. Sutton

Touch Judges: C. Butler, P. Henderson

Video Referee: B. Norrie

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