GRAND FINAL DAY LOCKED IN | Three big fixtures next Sunday at Sydney's ANZ Stadium! Burleigh and Ill...
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The New Zealand Warriors have spoiled departing Parramatta Eels skipper Nathan Cayless' farewell with a 26-12 victory at Parramatta Stadium.
One of the most entertaining halves of football for this year started with both sides trading successive dropouts with each other after the Eels had all the ball for the opening five minutes. The Warriors defence, however, would stand firm throughout the onslaught and they received their own fair share of the ball for the next ten minutes as they peppered the Eels goal-line with four successive repeat sets. All the tackling finally took its toll on the Eels in the 16th minute, when Jerome Ropati opened the scoring. Kicking early in the tackle count, Warriors half-back Brett Seymour grubbered in behind Krisnan Inu and Ropati would be first to the ball. Eels fullback Jarryd Hayne would do his best to bundle the Warriors centre into touch, but would be unsuccessful as Ropati placed the ball centimetres in from the touch-line.
The following ten minutes would be a mirror image of the previous ten as the Eels forced repeated goal-line dropouts, before the Warriors defence finally cracked. It would all eventuate from a penalty and Hayne's kick for touch found the sideline half a metre out from the Warriors try-line. Timana Tahu took full advantage of some soft Warriors defence to take a quick tap, throw a dummy and dive over out wide. Luke Burt's successful sideline conversion put the Eels in front for the first time in the match. Their lead, however, would be short-lived as the Warriors scored a scintillating 70-metre try of their own. Hayne chip-kicked on the last tackle, but Warriors winger Kevin Locke scooped up the ball and headed downfield. Nathan Hindmarsh would chase in vein before Locke threw the pass inside to Brent Tate to put the Warriors back in front. The final piece of drama would occur on the stroke of half-time when Luke Burt found himself in open space. After toeing the ball through several times, Burt was taken out by James Maloney 20-metres from the Warriors line, although Maloney may have been unsighted as Burt attempted to toe the ball through again, rather than pick the ball up. After viewing several video replays, the Eels would get a penalty and Maloney found himself in the sin-bin for the opening 10 minutes of the second half.
The Warriors started the second half with 12-men and despite this, the Eels could not take full advantage, despite having some quality ball and field possession. The Warriors would extend their lead and extinguish any hopes of a Parramatta fightback through front-rower Jesse Royal. Halfback Seymour scooped up the ball out of dummy half and wrestled with many Eels defenders before flicking a pass to Royal who scored under the posts. Ten minutes later, the Warriors would go back-to-back and extend their lead through tries to wingers Kevin Locke and Manu Vatuvei. Locke would loom up in support after hooker Aaron Heremaia darted out of dummy half, while Vatuvei would be the recipient of a perfect cut-out pass from centre Jerome Ropati. It was perhaps fitting that the final points of the match would come through Eels' retiring captain Nathan Cayless. Despite his teammates being thoroughly outplayed, Cayless would be the first to Daniel Mortimer's in-goal grubber, taking full advantage of the new