4 days ago
Eels pip 'unfortunate' Dragons 19-18
Parramatta capitalised on St George Illawarra's misfortune and mistakes to post a tough 19-18 NRL victory at ANZ Stadium.
The Eels took full advantage of a dubious video referee decision against the Dragons and a poor option by Jamie Soward to score two pivotal tries in their three tries apiece win in front of 16,313 fans.
The matchwinning field goal came in the 74th minute.
A superb 40-20 kick by hooker Matthew Keating gifted Parramatta ideal field position and halfback Brett Finch calmly slotted a 15m shot to open up a 19-12 lead for the Eels.
It is the first time the Eels have posted back-to-back victories in 2008 and lifts them to 10 competition points, while the Dragons remain near the foot of the table on just six points.
Parramatta held a 12-6 halftime lead, but it could have easily been the Dragons with the six-point buffer if not for a dubious decision by video official Steve Clark.
Clark denied a 32nd minute try to Jason Nightingale after ruling Cooper had stripped Eric Grothe in the tackle on his kick return.
It proved a 12-point turnaround as the Eels carried the ball from the ensuing penalty across halfway for Nathan Hindmarsh to break the line and pop an offload to Burt to score under the posts for a 12-0 lead.
Even referee Sean Hampstead understood the significance of the situation, remarking "that was a hard decision Clarky" as Burt lined up his conversion attempt.
Early in the second half the Dragons suffered another near-miss, but this time it was their own fault as Soward made a break down the right hand side but ignored inside support from unmarked Mark Gasnier to instead pass to lock Stuart Webb who was dragged into touch by Joel Reddy.
Hayne and Gasnier enjoyed a ding-dong battle all day in the centres, Gasnier using his fleet-of-foot to slide past Hayne in the 36th minute and then beat two defenders to flick a pass to Chase Stanley to score the Dragons' opening half try.
The Eels had opened the scoring in the seventh minute with a swift ball movement along the backline resulting in Grothe forcing his way across in the corner.