In a game that could have plenty of different implications depending on the result, the Parramatta Eels travelled to the Central Coast Stadium to face the New Zealand Warriors.
It was the Eels who opened the scoring following a repeat set in just the 6th minute.
Read Mahoney attacked the short side, and Shaun Lane’s flat pass across the face of the defence allowed Maika Sivo to walk in the corner.
A few minutes later, Parramatta should have crossed on the right-wing.
After Mahoney and Clint Gutherson combined to get up to the ten-metre line, Mitchell Moses kicked along the floor to Blake Ferguson and despite nobody around him, the winger failed to gather the ball, and his drought continued.
After 17 minutes, Jazz Tevaga found himself in the sin-bin for striking Nathan Brown in the face in the tackle which caused a small melee, but it killed the Warriors momentum.
A few minutes later, Mahoney put Gutherson through a huge gap down the middle, with just Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to beat, the full-back kicked ahead and Jai Field accelerated past all others to take the ball in his hands and drop into the in-goal for a score.
Ferguson finally broke his 16-game scoring drought in the very next set.
Moses chipped ahead early in the tackle count, and Ferguson picked the ball up and raced 25-metres to score behind the posts despite being able to pass to other teammates in better positions to score.
Just past the half-hour mark, Kane Evans was close to scoring against the club he’ll join in 2021 but he couldn’t quite claim Mahoney’s kick in behind.
In the 35th minute, the Warriors scored a hail-mary try.
A fifth tackle kick from Chanel Harris-Tavita was tapped back by Hayze Perham, and was offloaded by seven different players, and shifted over to the right-wing.
The ball found Kodi Nikorima who kicked into the in-goal for Harris-Tavita to chase, gather and ground on the dive to pull a score back.
In the very next set, Tuivasa-Sheck made a wonderful break straight through the middle of the park, put on some fancy foot-work to leave Gutherson trailing before offloading out the tackle back to Nikorima.
Nikorima failed to gather but kicked the ball so to not concede a knock-on and Harris-Tavita was on hand to pick up the ball and score.
Despite a 40/20 from the Eels in the final seconds, they didn’t up quick enough to restart before the break.
HALF-TIME: New Zealand Warriors 12-16 Parramatta Eels
Both sides started the second half in a cautious manner, as the game hung in the balance.
The Eels were certainly the most comfortable as they managed to keep hold of the ball for along period of time following errors and penalties from the Warriors.
With 16 minutes to go, Parramatta finally got their fourth try.
Moses picked up the ball on the 10-metre line and kicked across the Waqa Blake who didn’t have to compete with anyone for the ball and upon hitting the floor dropped over the line.
The Eels couldn’t hold onto their ten-point lead for long though as Gerard Beale found himself with little room on the left-wing and kick back inside for Perham to dive onto the loose ball to score.
With five minutes to go, Tuivasa-Sheck failed to catch a high-bomb under pressure from Nathan Brown, before Karl Lawton picked up the ball from an offside position to gift the Eels another two points to go six points clear.
In the very next set, Gutherson kicked ahead for himself but failed to regather before Brown collected and went over the line.
However, Gutherson knocked on to leave the scores at 18-24 with three minutes on the clock.
Peta Hiku had been dangerous all afternoon and found himself on the outside shoulder of Jennings once again, but this time the Parramatta centre managed to hold onto his opposite number and bundle Hiku into touch.
FULL-TIME: New Zealand Warriors 18-24 Parramatta Eels
New Zealand Warriors
Tuivasa-Sheck, Pompey, Perham, Hiku, Beale, Nikorima, Harris-Tavita, Taunoa-Brown, Lawton, Burr, Murchie, Harris, Tevaga
Interchanges: Egan, Blair, Curran, Papali’i
Tries: Harris-Tavita (2), Perham
Goals: Harris-Tavita (3/3)
Gutherson, Sivo, Jennings, Blake, Ferguson, Field, Moses, Campbell-Gillard, Mahoney, Paulo, Lane, Matterson, Brown
Interchanges: Stone, Niukore, Evans, Kaufusi
Tries: Sivo, Field, Ferguson, Blake
Goals: Moses (4/5)
Referee: G. Atkins
Touch Judges: C. Butler, P. Henderson
Video Referee: B. Scott
Image Source: @NRL (twitter)