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An impressive Parramatta Eels outfit have held off a fast finishing New Zealand Warriors 24-18 in front of a record crowd at Eden Park tonight.
The Eels started well, scoring in the 8th minute off the back of an error from Lance Hohaia. Some great lead up work from Casey McGuire at dummy half created a bit of space for Jeff Robson, who managed to dive over from close range.
Luke Burt, who started the night needing just 5 points to become the second player in club history to surpass 1,500 points, slotted over the conversion easily, making the score 6-0.
At the 14 minute mark, disaster struck for the Warriors. An excellent try-saving tackle from young Eels winger, Etu Uaisele left cult figure Manu Vatuvei on the ground, wincing in pain. This forced a restructure, as Lewis Brown moved into the centers, and Jerome Ropati to the wing. It was later revealed that Vatuvei had torn his medial ligament, and is looking at 6-8 weeks on the sideline.
The Warriors lacked discipline early, with a number of penalties being called against them. This hurt the most in the 18th minute, when Russell Packer was lying all over an Eels player, gifting Parramatta 2 points, and taking Luke Burt to just 1 point shy of 15,000 points.
Parramatta's defensive line was solid all night, creating many unforced errors from the Warriors. Sheer weight of possession, and indiscipline from the Warriors allowed the Eels into great field position for most of the first half.
The Warriors succumbed to the pressure after 30 minutes, as Daniel Mortimer put in a great cross field kick for Jarryd Hayne, who out leaped Ropati and slammed the ball down for the Eels second try of the night. It was fitting that Luke Burt passed the 15,000 point mark with a beautiful conversion from the sideline. 14-0 to the Eels.
The injection of Shaun Berrigan sparked some attacking flair from the Warriors late in the second half, which on the back of two quick penalties, led to the Warriors' first points of the night. Lance Hohaia scoots out to his right before firing a cut out pass to Jerome Ropati, who scored in the corner. Maloney nails the conversion from the sideline, making it 14-6 at halftime.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, the second half started much the same as the first, with a costly error leading to points. This time rookie Glen Fisiiahi dropped a Jarryd Hayne bomb, allowing the ball to bounce into the arms of a well positioned Luke Burt, who scored the try, and moved just 2 away from Brett Kenny's try scoring record.
The Warriors' pain continued in the 57th minute when Burt crossed for his second try of the night. It was the Jarryd Hayne special. A typical Hayne run to his left, drawing defenders and firing a quick cut out pass to Burt, who went in untouched.
All of a sudden, the Warriors turned it on, scoring 2 tries in 8 minutes. The first to Jerome Ropati, his second of the night, and a beauty, and the second to Lewis Brown, who took advantage of some lazy Parramatta defending off a Maloney chip kick.
At 24-18 the game was back on, and the Warriors had a new found energy and enthusiasm. All the typical New Zealand flair and second man play was in action, but Parramatta defended solidly, and held them out.
In the closing minutes Luke Burt defused a dangerous attacking bomb, sealing the game for the Eels.
That brings an end to a game that had everything. Brutal defense, attacking flair, individual brilliance and plenty of errors. The Eels have started their 2011 season in style, whilst the Warriors will have to go back to the drawing board, and work out what to do without Manu Vatuvei.
New Zealand Warriors 18 were defeated by Parramatta Eels 24
National Rugby League - Round 1 - Saturday March 12, 2011 5:30pm
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Referee: Steve Lyons and Chris James
Video Referee: Chris Ward
Touch Judges: Adam Reid and Henry Perenara
Halftime: New Zealand Warriors 6 Parramatta Eels 14
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS (18)
Tries: Jerome Ropati (2), Lewis Brown
Conversions: James Maloney (3/3)
PARRAMATTA EELS (24)
Tries: Luke Burt (2), Jarryd Hayne, Jeff Robson
Conversions: Luke Burt (3/4)
Penalty Goals: Luke Burt (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary With the 2011 season underway in spectacular fashion last night, it's time for the Warriors and Eels to show what they can do. Warriors fans are out in force today at Eden Park, deep in Union territory. Can the Warriors show strength and win for the victims of Christchurch, or will the Eels spoil the occasion?
We'll find out in 80 minutes!
Team Changes: For the Eels; Fui Fui Moi Moi is back in jersey #20, with Carl Webb dropping off the bench.
Warriors: A few changes in the starting line up for the Warriors. Sam Rapira and Feleti Mateo drop back to the bench, with Lewis Brown and Jacob Lillyman taking their spots, respectively.
1 min: And we're underway! Warriors kick off. Eels have first possession.
1 min: Lance Hohaia muffs Hayne's kick downfield, giving Parramatta a scrum in excellent field position.
6 min: Penalty to Parramatta. Warriors holding down too long. More good field position for the Eels.
8 min: TRY
Weight of possession was too much for the Warriors, who were slow coming off their line. Good lead up work from Casey McGuire allowed Jeff Robson to burrow over from close range.
Parramatta Eels 6-0
13 min: Penalty to the Warriors deep in their own half. Parramatta were too rough in the scrum.
14 min: Try saving tackle from Uaisele stops Vatuvei from opening the scoring for the Warriors. Vatuvei is down.
15 min: Manu Vatuvei limps off the field. Mateo is on.
15 min: After a great bust from youngster, Fisiiahi, he knocks on whilst attempting to play the ball. Pressure back on the warriors.
17 min: PENALTY GOAL
Russell Packer is all over an Eels player, gifting them a penalty right in front. Luke Burt slots the kick easily.
Parramatta Eels 8-0
22 min: Mateo loses the ball in a tackle. Very loose carry. The Warriors need to stop making errors if they want to stay in this game.
24 min: Chris Walker is caught offside after a Hayne bomb is allowed to bounce by Fisiiahi and goes straight into Walker's hands.
26 min: Warriors throw away a golden opportunity to score after some great work from Lewis Brown, who is playing in the centers after Vatuvei's departure. Throws a pass inside that is slightly off the mark, and is knocked on by Jerome Roparti.
30 min: Parramatta scrum 10m out from the Warriors line.
30 min: TRY Media Mantarays
A great cross field kick from Mortimer sees Hayne fly above the pack and snatch the ball over Jerome Roparti and plants it down for his first try of the year. Burt nails the conversion from the sideline.
Parramatta Eels 14-0
36 min: Eels caught offside. Warriors tape the quick tap 5m out.
36 min: TRY
Lance Hohaia throws a great cutout pass to Jerome Ropati, who scores in the corner. Great service from Berrigan in the lead up.
Parramatta Eels 14-6
40 min: Half time at Eden Park. Parramatta lead 14-6. Both teams are still in this game. Looking forward to a great second half.
42 min: News from the sheds. Vatuvei has torn his medial ligament. 6-8 weeks is the early prognosis.
43 min: Some physical defense from the Warriors early in the second half.
44 min: TRY
Parramatta's strategy of bombing to Fisiiahi has proven successful, as the youngster drops a bomb from Jarryd Hayne. The ball falls nicely for Luke Burt, who scores the try. Conversion successful.
Parramatta Eels 20-6
46 min: Fisiiahi is targeted again on a bomb, and makes another error. More great field position for the Eels.
49 min: Hayne cops an elbow from James Maloney as he tries to receive a bomb. Late hit, and a little high. Maloney has been placed on report. Eels penalty.
50 min: Parramatta on the attack. Looking very dangerous.
54 min: Penalty to the Warriors. Hohaia getting worked over in the tackle.
55 min: Some enterprising football from the Warriors. Parramatta's right hand side defense is looking very questionable.
56 min: Parramatta force a line drop out after a nice kick from Maloney. All the pressure is on the Warriors right now.
57 min: TRY
Parramatta continue their dominance with another try. Put this one down to Jarryd Hayne. A typical Jarryd Hayne style run to the left, drawing defenders, then throws a beautiful cut out pass to Luke Burt, who strolls over untouched. Burt is now only 1 try away from Brett Kenny's try scoring record.
Parramatta Eels 24-6
61 min: It's going to take a miracle for the Warriors to come back from here. The Eels are all over them.
61 min: Another loose carry from Mateo gifts Parramatta perfect field position for another attacking raid. Scrum 30m out from Warriors line.
62 min: Pressure is off the Warriors for the moment, as the Eels drop the ball.
65 min: Warriors in great attacking position, with a scrum 20m out from the Eels line.
65 min: Video ref checking a try to Jerome Roparti.
65 min: TRY
Some brilliant finishing by Jerome Ropati gives him his second try for the night. Great ball from Maloney put Ropati into a bit of space, who beat the diving Uaisele into the corner, narrowly before putting his hand into touch.
Parramatta Eels 30-6
67 min: The try appears to have sparked the Warriors. They look like a different team. The Eels are holding them off admirably, though.
68 min: Fisiiahi is down after some strong defense from Casey McGuire. He is now up and jogging back to his position.
69 min: Kearney has done some great things for Parramatta's defense. The Warriors simply cannot break their line.
71 min: TRY
If you can't go through them, then why not go over them? A nice chip kick is fumbled by Parramatta and Lewis Browns grabs himself a 4 pointer. Game on!
Parramatta Eels 24-18
74 min: Warriors run a set play with Maloney putting in a grubber to Fisiiahi, who regathers and passes inside to Moon, who knocks it on. Great stuff!
75 min: Moi Moi pulls the leg of a Warriors player, giving them a penalty.
76 min: Pressure is starting to show as Mortimer drops a simple pass. Warriors ball.
77 min: Luke Burt defuses a dangerous Warriors bomb and launched an Eels counter attack.
78 min: Mortimer gets up from a tackle throwing punches. Hohaia was giving him a bit of attention. Silly error from the youngster.
79 min: Moi Moi smashes Hohaia, who is down hurt. Just checking if it was a legal tackle.
All good. Play on.
80 min: FULLTIME: Parramatta have held off a fast finishing Warriors outfit, giving Stephen Kearney his maiden coaching victory.