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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.
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.
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.
LATE MAIL: Bulldogs - Pat O'Hanlon drops out of the squad, Canterbury will take the field 1-17 tonight.
LATE MAIL: Eels - No changed for Parramatta, as per the Tuesday team sheet, 1-17
Welcome to LeagueUnlimited.com's LIVE coverage from ANZ Stadium as the 8th placed Bulldogs take on the 9th placed Parramatta Eels as both teams fight out for a finals spot. There is just four games remaining in the regular season and the race is on as we head towards September. Jarryd Hayne will have to spark the Eels into gear so they can overcome their traditional rivals and jump into the top 8.
As for Canterbury, they are again with Josh Reynolds who has been suspended for several incidents, not including taking his frustrations out on a plastic chair after being sin binned.
We are still awaiting kick off here at ANZ Stadium, both teams still in the sheds.
The Bulldogs now exiting the sheds here at ANZ, the Eels to follow... kick off should be moments away
1: We are UNDERWAY, finally, at ANZ Stadium as Chris Sandow kicks off. Bulldogs get first use of the ball.
2: Chris Sandow comes up with a poor last tackle kick and it's a change over for the Bulldogs 10 metres short of the half way line.
4: Mitch Brown flirts with the touchline as he attempted to take the last tackle kick from the Eels. The Bulldogs with possession deep in their own half
5: VIDEO REFEREE for the Bulldogs, Greg Eastwood has a TRY. Looking at grounding as he easily charged through three Eels defenders.
5: TRY CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Scored by Greg Eastwood. Kick to come.
Greg Eastwood gets GREEN LIGHTS as he surged through 3 Eels defenders after a massive charge on the try line. Bulldogs first points tonight
6: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Conversion attempt by Trent Hodkinson successful.
Trent Hodkinson from beside the uprights slots the extras and the Bulldogs make it a converted try lead
7: Penalty to the Bulldogs, their second of the night, this time for offside. Hodkinson kicks for touch and the Bulldogs march up to just 20 metres out
9: Greg Eastwood darts into a opening in the defensive line but he can't hold onto possession. Eels clean up and they come up with it 10 metres from their try line.
10: Good defensive set from the Bulldogs, The Eels forced to keep from deep in their own set after gaining just 17 metres from the full set. Bulldogs start their set on half way
11: Bulldogs defensive line keeps the Eels again in their own half. Corey Norman forced to kick from on his own 20 metre line.
12: William Hopoate is trapped in goal, forced back from the kick after taking it. Line drop out again for the Bulldogs
14: The Eels hold out again, Chris Sandow cleans up a bomb from Hodkinson. Eels have possession 10 metres out from their own half
17: Chris Sandow aims for a 40/20 but it comes up just shy of the 20 metre line. Scrum for the Bulldogs now.
23: Penalty to the Bulldogs, slow release in the ruck from Ken Edwards. Bulldogs 30 metres out from the Eels try line.
23: TRY CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Scored by Mitch Brown. Kick to come.
Mitch Brown takes a great pass from Tim Lafai and his footwork sees him sail over for the Bulldogs second try off their third penalty of the game.
27: Trent Hodkinson places a grubber kick between the Eels defence on last tackle, it's taken easily by Hayne and the Eels have possession once again deep in their own half.
28: UNFORCED ERROR PARRAMATTA EELS
Chris Sandow makes an unforced error.
Whoops. Chris Sandow drops the ball as he shaped to kick on last tackle, focus just drawn away slightly from the play gives the Bulldogs a chance from a change over 15 metres out
29: TRY CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Scored by Aiden Tolman. Kick to come.
Aidan Tolman has slipped easily into a gap off a simple short pass from Mchael Ennis out of dummy half. Too simple for Canterbury
31: Another penalty for the Bulldogs, Isaac De Gois comes up with a high tackle. That is 4-0 the count now, Bulldogs up to half way
32: Semi comes up with a brilliant catch off the boot of Hodkinson, he beats Mitch Brown to the ball and the Eels have possession on their 20 metre line.
33: It's taken 32 minutes, but the Eels have their first penalty of the game. They attack from a Sandow touch finder, 40 metres out
36: UNFORCED ERROR CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Corey Thompson makes an unforced error.
Corey Thompson makes a meal of the Sandow grubber in goal and it's a line drop out for the Eels. Chance again, but the defensive line is holding.
38: TRY PARRAMATTA EELS
Scored by Semi Radradra. Kick to come.
Semi Radradra dives over in the western corner as he took a tap on from Jarryd Hayne as he managed to keep the play alive. Tim Lafai can't shut down the shifting play and the Eels strike back
40: HALF TIME at ANZ Stadium sees the Bulldogs hold an 18-10 lead after a massive defensive performance.
41: Second half is underway here at ANZ Stadium as the Bulldogs kick off and lead the Eels by 8 points.
41: Great opening defensive set from the Eels, Bulldogs similarly to their opposition trapped in their own 20 metre zone.
42: Penalty to the Eels, offside is the call against the Bulldogs. Parramatta attacks 10 metres out
43: TRY PARRAMATTA EELS
Scored by Semi Radradra. Kick to come.
Semi Radradra brings up his 18th try of the season off a brilliant cut out pass from Corey Norman, he strolls over in the corner for his second of the night.
44: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION PARRAMATTA EELS
Conversion attempt by Chris Sandow successful.
Chris Sandow with the conversion from the eastern sideline, at the juncture of the 20 metre line slots the points.
48: UNFORCED ERROR PARRAMATTA EELS
Jarryd Hayne makes an unforced error.
Jarryd Hayne takes an inside pass from Chris Sandow, but after taking a 20 metre bolt he is unable to hold onto possession in a two man tackle from behind.
51: Shocking end to the set for the Eels, Corey Norman rushes a kick after the Eels spread rapidly across the field. Tim Lafai wraps up the ball and it's a change over at the 10 metre line.
53: Early kick from Sandow on the 3rd tackle sees it roll over the sideline and it's a scrum for the Bulldogs.
54: Time off here as David Gower was snipered as he looked to take a dart into the defence. His knee the issue and his night could over as he was assisted by the trainers off the field.
55: Trent Hodkinson rolls the kick end on end and it's a scrum down for the Eels in their own half, 15 metres off their try line.
58: Sam Perrett took the catch on last tackle in the field of play, Bulldogs again stuck in their half with the ball.
60: Pauli Pauli is flinged over the sideline after he slipped into the line after taking an offload from Hayne.
63: Trent Hodkinson kicks straight to the waiting arms of Norman and the Eels are let off the hook as they could have easily conceded points in the eastern corner.
66: Semi Radradra almost comes up with a great effort to get out of the in goal area, but he is trapped and it's repeat set for the Bulldogs through a line drop out
67: CHANGE OVER! Eels defence holds and the Bulldogs give up possession in the Eels red zone
68: Double knock on and it's a chance for the Bulldogs through a scrum 20 metres out from the try line.
68: Penalty to the Bulldogs, they have another full set 10 metres out.
69: VIDEO REFEREE for Trent Hodkinson. NO TRY called for Bulldogs
70: VIDEO REFEREE for the Eels, Semi Radradra is the scorer but we have NO TRY
70: NO TRY for Semi Radradra, he is in touch before grounding. Change over for the Bulldogs at the 10 metre line.
71: Hodkinson puts up a bomb on last tackle and it's taken easily by Vai Toutai in his own red zone.
72: Chris Sandow fumbles the last tackle kick as he shaped for a 40/20 kick and the Bulldogs have it 20m short of half way
74: The passes don't stick for the Eels as Hayne linked with Norman who looked for Radradra but he overran the ball. Bulldogs come up with possession on half way
77: Trent Hodkinson's kick is poor on last tackle it's taken easily by Norman and the Eels need to go 99 metres to steal this game.
78: UNFORCED ERROR PARRAMATTA EELS
William Hopoate makes an unforced error.
Will Hopoate rushes the play and it's thrown over the sideline. Scrum for the Bulldogs
79: Time off, 29 seconds left… we've been in this position before with a scrum to win it.
80: FULL TIME at ANZ Stadium, with the Bulldogs defeating the Eels 18-16. Defensive from Canterbury and errors from the Eels costing them the game tonight.