ICYMI, on Thursday the @NRL - National Rugby League released the 2018 #NRLDraw.
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A late try and surprising last minute field goal by Eels forward Ian Hindmarsh sealed a comprehensive victory for the Parramatta side, which fought hard for its 27 points to triumph over a gallant 14 point Penrith Panthers at CUA Stadium.
A solid crowd of 18,756 fans turned out at Penrith to embrace the atmosphere of not only Friday Night Football but also a highly anticipated local derby - they did not leave disappointed, for a terrific standard of football was on show, as the forwards muscled up and fought hard for ground, while both sets of backs showed touches of class in not only their attacking sets of plays, but also their defence.
The Panthers opened the scoring when they put two points on the board in the 4th minute through a penalty goal, which was matched by the Eels not long later in the 11th minute when fullback Luke Burt slotted over a penalty kick of his own.
Parramatta was the first to register a four-pointer though when centre Timana Tahu used some great footwork to overwhelm some Penrith defenders before linking up with his winger Jarryd Hayne who drew in some defenders before handing the ball off to the flying fullback Luke Burt who used his pace to score. But, the Panthers counter-attacked not long later in the 19th minute off an unsuccessful Eels try, adding four points through winger Michael Gordon who scored with ease thanks to a nice pass from fullback Rhys Wesser.
Penrith continued their roll on in the 24th minute when a great individual effort from Rhys Wesser - who stepped and weaved through the defence - put the ball down over the line to score. But Parramatta hit back just before halftime through Tim Smith who delivered a nice inside ball to big Nathan Hindmarsh who dived over to add four points to the board.
At halftime the Eels lead 14 points to 12. But just after the break, the Panthers were awarded a controversial penalty by the referee right in front of the posts that lead to an easy two points for the Panthers. The issue was with Grothe and the play-the-ball - or lack there of. But the Eels hit back later on in the 54th minute through young sensation Feleti Mateo. He put on a marvellous piece of footwork that eventually lead to a try. He dodged the Penrith defenders in Gower and Jennings, before handing the ball off to Ben Smith who made a nice run before delivering it to Burt who scored for his second try.
In the 71st minute Parramatta forward Ian Hindmarsh surprisingly kicked a field goal - off his left boot - to boost his side