Resilient Eels absorb Storm strikes

Retiring club legend Nathan Hindmarsh scored the decisive try as the Parramatta Eels sent Stephen Kearney out a winner at Parramatta Stadium, upsetting would-be minor premiers the Melbourne Storm.

The win was soured for Parramatta fans by the loss of Jarryd Hayne, who left the field 70 minutes into his comeback clutching his right knee. The superstar fullback, who was instrumental in the win, was pulled down awkwardly by Anthony Quinn after backing up a break by Ben Smith. He left the field on a medicab, with no other news yet available.ย 

The Storm came into the game on the back of a three-game losing streak, but were firm favourites against a Parramatta side that have been average at best so far this season. Parramatta were left reeling by the announcement mid-week that coach Stephen Kearney was stepping down, and it remained to be seen whether the Eels could mount a tribute to their outgoing mentor. There is only pride left to play for for the Eels, but they certainly made tonight count as they outscored the minor premiership hopefuls three tries to two.

It was Ken Sio that drew first blood in the 9th minute, as Chris Sandow at first receiver found Jarryd Hayne joining the line. Hayne in turn found Sio with a crisp pass to the right wing, and the young gun crossed effectively untouched. Luke Burt was unable to land the touchline conversion, but a 4-0 lead showed the Eels weren't going to be the pushovers some expected.

The lead was extended to 10-0 midway through the first half, when Hayne spotted a yawning gap in the Melbourne defence. His grubbing kick for Ben Smith was on target, and despite hints the second rower had knocked the ball forward before grounding it, the video referee awarded the try on benefit of the doubt.

Parramatta showed throughout the half that they weren't afraid to use the ball and the width of the field, and on several occasions half-breaks had the 9,029 Parramatta faithful in attendance on their feet. It was mostly to no avail however, as the Storm covered well to snuff out most chances.

Melbourne had numerous chances on the Eels' line throughout the first half, as errors and soft penalties from the Eels let them back into the game. It was testament to a newfound attitude from the home side that the Storm were held scoreless for 39 minutes of the half, as desperate cover and bootstrap tackles became the order of the day for the men in gold. Melbourne finally had something to show for their efforts with seconds remaining in the half, as fill-in five-eighth Rory Kostjasyn spotted a gap and his momentum was enough to carry him over the line, despite the attention of Parramatta defenders.

The second half continued much as the first had ended, with both sides making metres with ease, but some poor options and errors from both, coupled with some aeronautical displays from wingmen ensured the scores stayed as they were during the early exchanges - and indeed the majority of the second stanza.

It wasn't until the 71st minute when fans again had real reason to cheer. Nathan Hindmarsh forced the error with a solid tackle, and after a set building pressure on the Storm line Chris Sandow spotted the chink he had been looking for. The diminutive halfback poked his head through and the line was within reach, but a flick back over his shoulder instead saw Hindmarsh crash through the efforts of Gareth Widdop and Dane Nielsen to score. Luke Burt's conversion was on the money, and the Eels set themselves to defend a 10 point lead with 10 to play.

Defend stoutly they did, the Storm again having numerous chances snuffed by some superb width defence. However, much like in the first half it couldn't hold up forever, Kostjasyn putting the defence into two minds and sending Ryan Hoffman, who had a strong game throughout and who had been narrowly denied several times previously, crashing over. Smith's conversion sprayed well wide to the left, and a 6-point lead was Parramatta's to defend. They absorbed everything but the kitchen sink in the dying seconds, resolutely holding out to secure a well-deserved win, 16 points to 10.

Match Details

Parramatta Eels 16 defeated Melbourne Storm 10
National Rugby League - Round 20 - Saturday July 21, 2012 7:30pm
Venue: Parramatta Stadium
Referee: Steve Lyons and Tony De Las Heras
Video Referee: Phil Cooley
Touch Judges: Adam Reid and Brenden Wood
Crowd: 9,029
Halftime: Parramatta Eels 10 Melbourne Storm 6 players of the match:
3 Points - Jarryd Hayne
2 Points - Ken Sio (1 Try)
1 Point - Nathan Hindmarsh (1 Try)

Tries: Nathan Hindmarsh, Ben Smith, Ken Sio
Conversions: Luke Burt (2/3)

Tries: Ryan Hoffman, Rory Kostjasyn
Conversions: Cameron Smith (1/2) Live Commentary Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Parramatta Stadium, where the Parramatta Eels take on the Melbourne Storm.

The potential outcomes for both teams tonight vary drastically: for the Eels the game is a chance to move a step closer to avoiding the dreaded wooden spoon, while for the Storm regaining their place at the top of the Premiership ladder is their aim tonight.

Team News: The news on everyone's lips tonight is the return of Jarryd Hayne, who will replace Jake Mullaney wearing jersey 18. Ben Roberts starts at hooker, pushing Nathan Smith to lock and Reni Maitua into the second row. Nathan Hindmarsh will start at prop. with Tim Mannah coming off the bench.
For the Storm Will Chambers is in for Justin O'Neill, while Richie Fa'aoso makes his Storm debut at the expense of Jaiman Lowe. Join the conversation - follow LeagueUnlimited on Twitter and tweet about the match using the Official Hashtag = #NRLparmel.

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1 min: Luke Burt gets us under way and Jesse Bromwich takes the first ruck.
1 min: Sika Manu makes an early break, pulled down 40 out from the Eels line. Cronk puts it high and Hayne diffuses it safely.
5 min: Eels showing they're not afraid to use the ball. Melbourne maintaining a slight field position advantage early, and get 6 to go as the Eels knock a dummy half pass down.
7 min: Chambers pulled down just short of the Eels' line, Melbourne shoot up too quickly after the handover and the Eels receive the first penalty.
8 min: Sika Manu penalised for working the tackled player. Parra on the attack.
9 min: TRY
TRY! Parramatta Eels

The Eels work it around the back to Sandow, before Hayne makes the ball sing and Sio crosses in the corner! Touchline conversion from Luke Burt shaves the upright and stays away.
Parramatta Eels 4-0
12 min: Penalty: Important penalty to Melbourne right at the end of their set. They go on the attack 20 out.
14 min: Some terrific desperate defence from Parramatta saves a try! Hoffman is held up on the last after reaching above the pack for the cross-field kick.
15 min: Fui Fui Moi Moi was never square at marker and is penalised. Another late penalty, can Parra hold out again?
17 min: Messy offloading from Melbourne sees Parramatta hold on again. They're up in the Storm's faces and showing they're not afraid of their more highly-rated opposition.
19 min: Moi Moi gets a well-earned rest, Mannah coming on. A penalty conceded aside it's been a strong opening stint from the big man.
20 min: Widdop makes a mess of a hard Nathan Smith grubber, but it went backwards and good covering defence saves the Storm - they'll pack a scrum, 10 out, Storm ball.
21 min: Penalty!: Waqa walked off the mark under attention from some Parra defenders. Eels on the attack.
21 min: Try time for Parramatta? Ben Smith pounces on a grubber. Video ref decision...
21 min: TRY
TRY! Parramatta Eels

Jarryd Hayne put the grubber into a yawning gap. Smith looked to have knocked it on, but it's deemed a try - benefit of the doubt. Burt nails this one from just to the right.
Parramatta Eels 10-0
24 min: Nathan Smith attempting an offload, it's ruled to have gone forward into the Storm players.
24 min: Jesse Bromwich responds in kind, a loose carry looking for the offload and he loses it in the tackle. Parra scrum feed 30 out from their own line.
25 min: Paulo looking for the flat ball, unlike so many others let go this one is pulled up.
27 min: Penalty Storm, and they go back on the attack. Can Parra hold out again?
28 min: Parramatta hold on again! Ben Roberts grabs Cameron Smith's grubber from thin air.
29 min: Waqa comes down with a Cronk bomb but has knocked it forward. Parra working it out well.
30 min: Sandow running across field looking for runners, and the hit from behind jolts the ball loose. Melbourne on the attack, 30 out from the Eels' line.
31 min: Ryan Hoffman is caught just short of the line yet again. Attack not quite clicking for Melbourne, Eels work it out yet again.
32 min: Errors galore as Nathan Smith passes it forward from dummy half, Storm ball 25 out. Surely they'll crack Parramatta soon!
35 min: Storm again on the attack 10 out.
35 min: Cameron Smith grubbers to the in-goal, and Jarryd Hayne manages to dive out. Safe again!
36 min: Parra reach the end of their set for the first time in a while. Could the Storm be held scoreless for the half? Still 10-0.
36 min: Parra reach the end of their set for the first time in a while. Could the Storm be held scoreless for the half? Still 10-0.
37 min: Sika Manu goes straight through again, pulled down brilliantly by Hindmarsh.
38 min: Penalty Storm!: Parra defenders didn't make it back in time.
38 min: Storm on the attack, 10 out. That's a familiar sentence...
38 min: ...and, yet again, Parra hold on. Storm do force a line drop out this time.
39 min: Penalty Storm! Hindmarsh penalised for a strip. Storm attacking from 10 out.
40 min: TRY
TRY Melbourne Storm!

Well it had to come, and Rory Kostjasyn sees a break and has enough momentum to get to the line!

Smith converts, and Melbourne will head to a Crag Bellamy half-time rant with some confidence.
Parramatta Eels 10-6
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Some half-time stats:

Parra head to the break 4 points ahead, despite completing at just 65% to the Storm's 81% and making 39 more tackles in the half.

It's clear Parra are gifting Melbourne too many opportunities - the error count reads 7-3 and penalties 3-5 - neither in the home side's favour.

Ben Smith is the top tackler for the half with 28 tackles, while Ryan Hoffman has the most runs (13).
It was an early win to the Storm tonight, with their U20s team resisting a late Parramatta comeback to prevail 28-22. Can their senior comrades mount a fightback of their own?
41 min: We're back underway in the second half, Parra have first use of the footy.
42 min: Hoffman splits the Eels line, linking with Widdop who is pulled down 40 out from the Eels line. Cronk goes high...
43 min: Cronk's bomb bounces off Sisa Waqa's chest. Changeover 10 out from the Eels' line.
46 min: Parramatta are pinged for a forward pass, Storm will attack from 35 out.
47 min: Penalty Eels!

Sisa Waqa looked to have been taken out, but it's ruled that he in turn took out Burt. Eels will hit it up from 25 out from their own line.
48 min: Hayne's towering bomb comes straight back to him and Melbourne start their set in good position.
50 min: Cronk stabs it through and puts pressure on Parra's defenders, but it's too strong. Parra 20 metre tap.
51 min: This bomb is much better from Hayne, and Waqa pulls it in just a metre from his line. Parramatta are using the full width of the field and making good metres.
53 min: Penalty Melbourne! Nathan Smith is penalised late in the count for working all over Ryles. Storm in good position.
54 min: Melbourne again piling on the pressure, Parramatta again resisting well. Sio's take of the cross-field kick is superb.
57 min: Chambers offloads and Widdop dances, Parra still holding on.
57 min: Knock on Melbourne! Jason Ryles drops the crash ball as he's pulled down, then gives away the penalty to further relieve the pressure.
58 min: Knock on Parramatta! Hindmarsh stuck his head through a gap, but juggled the ball. Storm back on the attack in the Parra half.
60 min: Cronk puts in the cross-field kick, Waqa bats it back and then Cronk and Moi Moi race for the ball. Moi Moi slips into touch and Melbourne remain on the attack, 10 out.
61 min: Bromwich skittles defenders, but Parra are still holding on. Sio takes the kick in the in-goal and takes off up-field, will play it on his 40!
62 min: Knock on Parramatta! Moi Moi leaves the pass behind.
62 min: Knock on Melbourne! Proctor knocks on as well and it's ruled advantage was taken. Parra scrum 35 out.
63 min: Knock on Parramatta! Ken Sio can't take in the Morgan flick pass as the Eels spread it from the scrum. Storm back on the attack, just inside their own half.
64 min: Jarryd Hayne makes Cronk's towering bomb look easy - he hasn't put a foot wrong all night.
65 min: Parramatta break down the left, and throw it around inside Melbourne territory, but the Storm somehow come up with it, and are on the attack from halfway.
66 min: Nielsen bats the ball back from the kick, Hoffman offloads to Hinchcliffe and a flying Fui Fui obliterates him.
66 min: Sad signs for Parramatta, as Willie Tonga limps off with the assistance of trainers.
67 min: Hayne finds Morgan with a floater, and he makes a half-break. Waqa again diffuses the bomb well.
67 min: Sandow finds touch just short of the line. Storm rush to form the scrum, but Parramatta are happy for the rest. No points yet in this exciting second half.
68 min: Knock on Melbourne! Hindmarsh forces the error, and Parramatta will go back on the attack from just 30 out.
70 min: TRY
TRY Parramatta Eels!

Chris Sandow saw a chink in the purple armour from first receiver and split them with pace. He pops it over his shoulder and Hindmarsh crashes over Widdop and Nielsen to score! Burt converts and it's a 10 point game with 10 to go.
Parramatta Eels 16-6
72 min: It was Hindmarsh that put them on the attack, and it's Hindmarsh that finishes it off - could that win the Eels the game, and consign Storm to a fourth straight loss?
73 min: Knock on Parramatta! Ben Roberts put Ben Smith through a gap, who found Hayne. He was pulled down awkwardly and is in pain on the ground.
73 min: Not looking good for the Parramatta star Jarryd Hayne. The medicab is entering the field. Tragic scenes in Parramatta.
77 min: TRY
TRY Melbourne Storm!

Rory Kostjasyn links with Ryan Hoffman and he crashes over in the corner! Smith sprays the conversion to the left and the Storm still trail by 6.
Parramatta Eels 16-10
79 min: Melbourne attacking desperately, swinging the ball and chancing their arm. Parramatta holding on to what would be an amazing victory.
80 min: Knock on Parramatta! Ken Sio cleans up the Melbourne grubber through, but it looks to have come free on impact. Storm ball 20 out, on the attack!
80 min: Storm throwing everything at the Parramatta line.
80 min: Parramatta Stadium erupts as Luke Burt cleans up the stabbing kick, and Parramatta condemn Melbourne to an uncharacteristic 4th straight loss!

Parramatta Eels 16 def. Melbourne Storm 10

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