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Parramatta Eels equal greatest comeback in thriller against Panthers
The Pirtek Parramatta Eels have equaled their biggest comeback to win a spectacular match at CUA Stadium 34-28. After trailing 22-0, Jarryd Hayne had a hand in five of the Eels' six tries in what maybe have been the game of the season.
The Parramatta Eels started poorly, letting in 22 points before they were able to put a try on the board.
As they have done so many times this year, the Panthers kicked their way to the lead. In the second minute halfback Luke Walsh hoisted a bomb high, which rebounded off Wade Graham to Frank Pritchard, who passed to Michael Jennings who sent Brad Tighe to the corner for a try.
Another Walsh kick, this time a midfield chip, led to Lachlan Coote breaking through the line before passing out to Adrian Purtell, who grubbered for the corner. Eels centre Jonathon Wright willed the ball to go out but Penrith winger Michael Gordon touched down just before the ball dribbled out.
Two minutes later an uncharacteristic error from Luke Burt gave the Panthers possession in the Eels' 20-metre zone again. Jennings ran at the line and grubbered, which wrong-footed Jarryd Hayne who slipped, leaving Coote to score for a 16-0 lead.
It took 20 minutes for the Eels to put together possession close to the tryline, but a loose pass from Daniel Mortimer led to more points for the Panthers, Jennings swooping on the ball to run more than 80 metres to the tryline.
With seven minutes before the end of the half and down 22-0, Fuifui Moimoi finally pulled the Eels into the game with a damaging run down the middle. A Hayne pass sent him straight at Walsh who could not tackle the big man and Burt's conversion made it 22-6.
It was the start of a stunning revival, with Hayne playing a part in all five tries. Three minutes after Hayne sent Moimoi over the line, he put Wright into space, who dangerously dummied as he came to fullback Coote instead of passing to Hayne, and scored the try himself.
At halftime it was 22-12, but the Eels took just five minutes to follow on from their last two tries. On the back of three consecutive penalties, a Hayne offload to Wright led to another try when he reached over his head to score his second of the night.
In the 54th minute Hayne had his fourth try assist, this time grubbering to the corner for Krisnan Inu, who casually planted the ball as he flirted with the touchline. Burt converted to put the Eels in front by two points for the first time in the night.
But Hayne really came to life with 14 minutes remaining, turning a simple kick return into an 85-metre demonstration of speed and skill to put the Eels ahead by eight.
However, in front of a record-breaking home crowd the Panthers were not done. Another Walsh bomb passed by all the Eels defenders again and bounced into the arms of Wade Graham who scored. The conversion left the Eels just two points in front again.
With the Panthers attacking in the final seconds and looking dangerous, Mateo intercepted before passing to Justin Horo who sealed one of the Eels' greatest comebacks.
PARRAMATTA EELS 34 (Jonathon Wright 2, Fuifui Moimoi, Krisnan Inu, Jarryd Hayne, Justin Horo tries; Luke Burt 5 goals) PENRITH PANTHERS 28 (Brad Tighe, Michael Gordon, Lachlan Coote, Michael Jennings, Wade Graham tries; Michael Gordon 4 goals) at CUA Stadium. Crowd: 22,582.