The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have a young ball boy to thank as they scrapped an 18-16 victory at ANZ Stadium in front of a healthy 30,394. Eels fans and players were left fuming by a rule which is left to the capabilities of a ball-boy.
The Bulldogs fired quickly in the first and their defensive efforts in the first half saw them take an 18-10 lead into the break.
Greg Eastwood used his power to surge through the Eels pack after 6 minutes to give the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead.
Chris Sandow constructed the Eels first points with a pin-point kick to set up Jarryd Hayne, he flew high to post first Blue and Gold points. The game locked at 6-all mid-way through the first half.
Canterbury extended their lead to two converted tries through Cronulla bound winger, Mitch Brown and Man of the Match, Aidan Tolman who managed to crack the Eels line easily courtesy of Tim Lafai and Michael Ennis respectively.
In the final minutes of the first half, Semi Radradra took a brilliant tap on pass from his captain, Hayne, to dive over in the western corner. Parramatta had crawled their way back to trial by 8 points as they went into the sheds.
Semi Radradra claimed the only points of the second half as he joined Jarryd Hayne as the NRL's leading try scorer with his 18th of the season in the 45th minute. With 2 points in the game, the tensions built to semi-final pitch with the pressure on both teams to make the top 8.
Both teams were denied tries within in the final 10 minutes as Trent Hodkinson bounced the ball over the try line and Semi Radradra slid over the sideline before grounding.
The boiling point hit in the 78th minute as Chris Sandow nailed a 40/20 with just millimetres to spare. In 2014, the 40/20 rule changed to allow teams to take a quick tap from the 20 metre line. However, the ball boy must place the ball at the mark and not pass directly to a player, which was the case tonight.
The Eels finals chances came down to a 10 year old ball-boy who would have only followed the directions of a screaming first grader. The Eels in the end not good enough to scrap victory after conceding easy first half tries.
Next week the Bulldogs host the embattled Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium on Thursday Night, while the Eels return to Pirtek Stadium in a massive clash with the Manly Sea Eagles.