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Match Summary Following a scoreless first half, the Parramatta Eels have posted a narrow 12-10 victory over the New Zealand Warriors in the opening finals encounter at Mt Smart Stadium tonight.
Playing in front of an estatic home crowd of 28,745 people, the Warriors defended well but played much of the opening 40 minutes on the back foot as both sides struggled to hang onto the ball.
With neither side making any real impression in the opening stanza, the match was there for the taking.
It was the Warriors who finally crossed for the first four-pointer in the 45th minute through centre Todd Byrne but the job was far from over. Normally a gun with the boot, five-eighth Michael Witt was unable to land the conversion attempt and the Warriors were hanging onto a 4-0 lead.
The Eels withstood a spirited charge from the home side before crossing twice in six minutes. Tries to lock Feleti Mateo (64th minute) and fullback Jarryd Hayne (70th minute) saw the visitors to a 12-4 lead.
With three minutes remaining, the Warriors were awarded a controversial penalty try when video referee Bill Harrigan jumped into the spotlight. In receiving a pass from Todd Byrne, Michael Witt was tackled from behind by Eels defender Chad Robinson - Harrigan apparently adamant that Robinson had taken out the support player.
The successful conversion from right in front signalled an exciting final two minutes, but Parramatta were able to hang on.
The Warriors season should still be alive but they'll have to wait for results from other matches over this weekend.
Meanwhile Parramatta have come away with an ugly win but enough to control their own destiny and can look forward to week two of the finals.
Match Details NRL FINALS WEEK 1 - Full Time :: September 7th, 2007 06:30 PM Venue: Mt Smart Stadium Crowd: 28,745 Referee: Tony Archer Half time: Nil all
New Zealand Warriors 10 Tries: Todd Byrne, Michael Witt Goals: Michael Witt (1/2) Parramatta Eels 12 Tries: Feleti Mateo, Jarryd Hayne Goals: Krisnan Inu (2/2)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Steve Price (Warriors) 2 Points: Nathan Hindmarsh (Eels) 1 Point: Jarryd Hayne (Eels) LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Welcome to Mt Smart Stadium and a huge crowd in Auckland tonight. Weather fine, a little cloudy and and about 14 degrees C. A little rain about an hour before kick off. Parramatta Eels as per the card. New Zealand Warriors almost unchanged with just George Gatis running on while Nathan Fien steps back to the bench. No. 18 Louis Anderson omitted from the NZ side.
KICK OFF! Eels kick off and Warriors have first use of the ball.
5 min: No score as yet as the Eels fail to find touch from a penalty. Warriors get a penalty in the next ruck and are pushing upfield from the half way line.
10 min: Eels attacking the Warriors line and enjoying some possession and field position. Warriors defending well.
15 min: Still no score with both side now having their opportunities. Possession has evened up.
16 min: INJURY - Winger Michael Crockett (Warriors) to the sideline after a heavy clash with fullback Jarryd Hayne (Eels). Crockett looks to chucking up and is probably concussed.
20 min: Still 0-0. The kicking game from both sides leaves a lot to be desired but this a gripping contest. Eels showing a better completion rate at this stage.
23 min: Eels on the attack following an intercept and break downfield. Warriors on the back foot but a big hit in defence sees the ball jolted loose and the home side get the scrum feed.
26 min: Possible TRY to the Warriors following a kick. Video Ref looking for knock-on and/or grounding. VERDICT... NO TRY - 20m restart.
31 min: Possible TRY to Eels after some desperate defence from Warriors five eighth Michael Witt on Eels centre Timana Tahu. Video ref looking for knock-on and/or grounding. VERDICT... NO TRY - Scrum.
33 min: Warriors turn over possession and forced to defend again. A lucky break sees the Warriors get the ball back before they get a relieving penalty.
35 min: Parramatta on the attack again before a wayward kick goes into touch. Too many errors from both sides but the Eels have been enjoying the majority of field position.
37 min: Penalty to Eels after Epalahame Lauaki (Warriors) is warned following a head slam on PJ Marsh (Eels).
39 min: Eels have the final attacking raid of the half and look to have an overlap but Eels halfback Tim Smith kicks. A refreshed Crockett picks up the ball to bring up a 0-0 half time scoreline.
Half time: 0-all. An extraordinary scoreline with both sides making errors and battling to complete their sets in the first half, the Warriors being the worst offenders overall. Warriors doing more tackling, but possession and other stats are otherwise pretty even. Parra have shown enough to win but with neither side troubling the scoreboard, this match is still very much up for grabs.
Warriors kick off and the second half is underway...
45 min: Possible TRY to Warriors following a kick. Video ref looking. VERDICT... a HUGE cheer goes from the locals!
45 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors Centre Todd Byrne scores the first try after leaping high to a kick, getting over the top of Eels winger Krisnan Inu. Conversion attempt by Michael Witt unsuccessful - a fairly easy kick by Witt's standards. New Zealand Warriors 4-0
50 min: Warriors have lifted with possession and field position going their way. Eels under pressure and a crucial stage of the match.
54 min: Possible TRY to Warriors. Video ref checking. VERDICT... NO TRY - Play-The-Ball. Video ref deems that second rower Logan Swann was short of the line / held up.
55 min: Repeat sets at the line but some top defence from the Eels holds out the Warriors.
64 min: Possible TRY to Eels. Video ref checking. VERDICT...
64 min: TRY Parramatta Eels Lock forward Feleti Mateo scores after a cross-field kick and scramble sees the ball knocked backwards. Conversion attempt by Krisnan Inu successful. Parramatta Eels 6-4
70 min: Possible TRY to Eels following an error from Warriors winger Patrick Ah Van. Video ref checking for obstruction. VERDICT...
70 min: TRY Parramatta Eels Hayne is awarded the try next to the sticks. Conversion attempt by Krisnan Inu successful. Parramatta Eels 12-4
75 min: Eels in the box seat now. Warriors with the ball and 90m of paddock in front of them.
77 min: Possible PENALTY TRY as a Warriors player is taken out chasing a kick. VERDICT...
77 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors Michael Witt is awarded a penalty try. Conversion attempt from right in front by Michael Witt is successful. Parramatta Eels 12-10
Full time: Parramatta Eels have defeated the Warriors 12-10.