Two sides with very different form came together at ANZ Stadium for a Sunday afternoon battle as the Parramatta Eels took a 36-16 victory over the Canterbury Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium in front of over 20,000 fans.
The start to the game was all Blue and White as the Bulldogs were able to dominate the field position and possession but despite forcing a number of repeat sets, they couldn't get over - even after being denied by the Bunker when Reimis Smith was driven into touch.
The Bulldogs ultimately did open the scoring when Kieren Foran was able to chase through a clever kick from Lachlan Lewis and get the best bounce possible, scoring an easy try and giving the home side a 6-0 lead. Canterbury then were able to cross again and this time it was Smith, again crossing in the corner. After a bunker review, he was able to keep this one and the Bulldogs' lead went out to 10-0.
The momentum swing that hit ANZ Stadium was one that couldn't have been predicted at all, as Parramatta put an absolute stranglehold on the game from the 25-minute mark. The Blue and Gold added their first points on the half-hour mark when Clint Gutherson went across field before turning the ball inside to Blake Ferguson who had too much size and speed for the Bulldogs defenders to stop. The Eels' second try of the first half came when the Bulldogs defenders left a gap for Reed Mahoney, who went straight through the middle of some flimsy efforts, Clint Gutherson backing up and scoring the try.
The away side took a 12-10 lead into the half-time break but the scoreboard began to rapidly tick as the second half began, Parramatta running in three tries in the first 11 minutes of after the resumption of play, including two intercept efforts. The first second half try came when the Bulldogs were caught down the short-side and the Eels used their numbers to get an overlap, which saw Ferguson go down the touch-line and before finding Gutherson who had his second.
The second Eels try was even easier for Ferguson who, after nearly taking a first half intercept, had better luck when he was able to take one just as the Bulldogs went left in an attack that itself wasn't so bad. Ferguson's intercept wasn't an isolated occurence, with Shaun Lane able to clean up an intercept himself not long after, and score without being touched to send the Eels out to a 30-10 lead.
Canterbury showed a very slight glimmer of hope when Dylan Napa was able to get through the Parramatta small men to score his first try in Bulldogs colours, and first in the NRL since 2016. It didn't amount to much as the Eels own Dylan - Brown that is - was able to get through and score to push the margin back out to 20.
The 36-16 victory for the Eels means they go two-from-two to start the season, whilst the Bulldogs have two big losses to start their campaign. Next weekend, Parramatta host the defending premiers the Sydney Roosters whilst the Wests Tigers are the opponents for Canterbury on Sunday at Campbelltown.