Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
Penrith Panthers 30 v Parramatta Eels 20
at CUA Stadium
Referee: Steven Clark
The Penrith Panthers have rubbed further salt into the Eels wounds with a 30-20 victory in front of 16,764 fans at CUA Stadium in Penrith to open Round 11 of the Telstra Premiership.
The Eels started with a hiss and a roar to open up a 10-0 lead within 7 minutes, but they couldn't sustain the effort against a Panthers team that worked their way into the match slowly before their attacking stars came to the fore. The Panthers scored the next four tries to open up a 22-10 lead, before Glenn Morrison pegged one back just before halftime to give the Eels a glimmer of hope.
At 22-16, the match was there for the taking - and the Panthers took it. Although the second half featured only one further try to each team, the Panthers had the majority of chances and with a bit of extra luck they could have easily clocked another two or three tries.
Luke Lewis looked very comfortable filling the #6 jersey for the Panthers - he was constantly involved on both attack and defence, and created some great opportunities for his team. He was well supported by the usual bunch, with Luke Priddis, Rhys Wesser, Preston Campbell and Frank Pritchard up to their normal standards. Matthew Bell produced an eye-catching performance on his debut from the bench, and looks to be a player with a promising future.
Aside from the opening 10 minutes, the Eels were pretty much out-gunned in the forwards. Jarryd Hayne and Luke O'Dwyer produced some classy touches, but were let down by a new-look halves combination that failed to click. In a further blow to their side, Wade McKinnon was rushed to hospital midway through the second half after copping a nasty looking elbow to the jaw.
Penrith Panthers: 30
Tries: Luke Priddis(2), Michael Gordon, Rhys Wesser, Matthew Cross
Goals: Preston Campbell 5/6
Parramatta Eels: 20
Tries: John Williams, Fuifui Moimoi, Glenn Morrison, Daniel Wagon
Goals: Brett Delaney 2/4
By the Clock:
Welcome to CUA Stadium for tonights western derby between the Penrith Panthers and the Parramatta Eels! It's been a week full of drama for the Eels ... can they stop the rot with a win over one of their keenest rivals?
0 min: KICKOFF - We're underway!
3 min: The Panthers have the first scoring opportunity of the night, but Preston Campbell's grubber kick is too deep.
4 min: Fui Fui Moi Moi makes a great clean break up the middle, and then gets a penalty for his team. Eels hard on attack.
4 min: TRY Parramatta Eels
John Williams crosses out wide for the Eels after a quick tap is taken. A good solid start for the Eels here tonight.
Brett Delaney's kick is waved away.
7 min: TRY Parramatta Eels
The Panthers fall asleep on defence, and big Fui Fui Moi Moi dots down under the posts despite plenty of Panthers trying to stop him.
Delaney converts the try.
14 min: Both teams have settled down a bit now - the Panthers are starting to work their way into the match, but they look to have their work cut out for them against a fired-up Eels outfit.
19 min: The game is being played in the middle third of the field at the moment - good error-free footy from both sides.
21 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
The Panthers get their first penalty of the night to give them great field position - and Luke Priddis takes full advantage with a dart over the line from dummy half.
Preston Campbell adds the extras.
25 min: VIDEO REF - checking a possible Eels try ...
25 min: NO TRY - Michael Vella can't quite ground a Jeremy Smith grubber, and is correctly ruled to have knocked-on in goal.
26 min: VIDEO REF - now checking a possible Panthers try ...
26 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
Luke Priddis puts Luke Lewis into a huge gap with a short pass, and Rhys Wesser is on hand to back him up and dot down JUST before the dead-ball line.
Preston Campbell converts, and the Panthers take the lead.
29 min: Preston Campbell chases a kick through and puts enough pressure on Wade McKinnon to force an error - scrum feed Panthers, ten metres out.
30 min: Plenty of aggro in this match all of a sudden - Steve Clark awards a scrum penalty to Penrith following a bit of argy-bargy, but in the following play Luke Lewis is penalised for running behind his own player.
33 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
Michael Gordon scores out wide following great lead-up work from a couple of Lukes, Lewis & Priddis. Discipline is becoming a problem for the Eels here - they are conceding plenty of penalties to allow easy metres to the opposition.
Preston Campbell, from right on the touchline, misses the kick.
38 min: VIDEO REF - a possible Panthers try ...
38 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
Luke Priddis scores his second for the night after chasing through a clever Luke Lewis grubber kick that everyone else managed to miss.
Preston Campbell adds another two points.
40 min: TRY Parramatta Eels
The Eels hit back just before the break as Glenn Morrison crosses the line, following a penalty against Frank Pritchard for an incorrect play-the-ball.
Brett Delaney kicks a good goal from out wide.
HALFTIME: Panthers 22 Eels 16
It took them a little while to warm up, but the Panthers are looking like the stronger team here tonight. The Eels certainly aren't out of the match, but will need to put a solid second forty together to put their losing streak to an end.
Possession: Panthers 51% Eels 49%
Completion: Panthers 14/19 Eels 14/18
Total metres: Panthers 781 Eels 602
Errors: Panthers 5 Eels 4
The second half is underway!
42 min: Luke Priddis puts a pin-point kick into the Eels' in goal, and the Panthers will receive the ball back from a goal-line drop out.
44 min: The Eels defence holds, but then Brett Delaney fumbles while trying to play the ball.
45 min: PENALTY GOAL Penrith Panthers
The Panthers receive a lucky penalty, with a touch judge ruling a lost ball was stripped. Preston Campbell slots a goal to open the second half scoring.
50 min: Parramatta get a scrum feed 30 metres out from the Panthers line, but Dean Widders knocks-on on the first tackle.
51 min: The Panthers make a good break up the touchline, but Michael Gordon is bundled into touch. The Panthers are looking like they could lift into top gear shortly.
54 min: Another blown chance for the Panthers - Luke Rooney isn't tall enough (!) to reach a wide pass with the tryline begging.
60 min: The Panthers have just defended two consecutive sets on their own line - the Eels are lacking in attacking spark tonight, and are being easily picked off by eager Penrith defenders.
65 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
Matthew Cross barges over from close range after a sustained period of Panthers attack. In the meantime, Steve Clark is lecturing Glenn Morrison about his captaincy skills, and Wade McKinnon has left the field with a suspected jaw injury.
After all that, Preston Campbell converts the try.
67 min: TV replays now show Matthew Cross could be in a bit of trouble for raising his elbows in tackles, leading to the Wade McKinnon injury. We're sure to hear more about this one.
70 min: Luke O'Dwyer puts his body on the line to cover a dangerous Preston Campbell grubber kick.
INJURY UPDATE: Wade McKinnon is on his way to hospital for x-rays.
74 min: VIDEO REF - checking a possible Panthers try ...
74 min: NO TRY - Some great lead-up work from Frank Pritchard and Preston Campbell puts Rhys Wesser into space, but he's dragged down just short of the line by Jarryd Hayne.
79 min: TRY Parramatta Eels
A consolation try for the Eels here - Dean Widders and Daniel Wagon combine to create some space, and Wagon finishes off the movement with a try in the corner.
Brett Delaney misses the conversion attempt.
FULLTIME: Panthers 30 Eels 20
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Luke Lewis (Panthers)
2 - Luke Priddis (Panthers)
1 - Rhys Wesser (Panthers)