Reaching 300 games is a major milestone and even with some time out of the game, Benji Marshall has managed to reach the landmark and still be a significant talent in the game. Before 24,125 fans at Bankwest Stadium, combining those from both clubs, the Parramatta Eels spoilt the Wests Tigers' party 30-18 and cemented their spot in the top 8.
The Tigers started with spirit with Robbie Farah looking sharp with piercing runs from dummy-half, but it was the Eels that almost got the first try through a dart from Dylan Brown that was called back for an obstruction. It was a sign of things to come, however.
The first ten saw some inspired running and chances from both teams. Robert Jennings nearly went in down the left, but Ferguson pushed him out nicely. It was a Mitch Moses special that lead to the first points though. A darting run, a chip and chase and he was taken out by Corey Thompson who clearly took him out. Thompson was lucky not to be sin-binned, but it gave the Eels a 2-0 start to the game.
The man of the moment, Benji Marshall, tried to spark things for the home team, but the defence from the Eels was enough until the 21st minute, when Farah and Benji spread it right to Corey Thompson who managed to reach out and plant the ball down for the first try of the afternoon. The missed conversion left the score at 4-0 for the home team.
The play continued with some fast play and exciting ball movement until the Eels tied it up with another penalty goal from right in front to Mitchell Moses. Robbie Farah may have been a little unlucky to have deemed to have knocked a ball on after pushing a pass from dummy-half, but what came next was the highlight of the first half.
Blake Ferguson took a chance and went for a run down the right wing, realised he wouldn't make it and flicked the ball in-field. The Tigers couldn't hold onto it, however, and the ensuing scrum feed to the Eels saw Moses set up a sweet little kick through for Brad Takairangi to dive on it and score the Eels' first of the day.
From the restart of play, Shaun Lane cleverly had his foot over the sideline as he touched the Tigers' kick-off and the Eels landed a penalty from halfway. The ensuing set saw Brad Takairangi nab his second, spinning in a tackle, looking for an offload and ending up reaching out to score, quite easily in the end. The Moses conversion from the sideline saw the score hit 16-4 at the half.
The second half didn't start well for the Tigers with David Nofoaluma dropping the ball on their first set, but fortunes turned quickly with a rare scrum win against the feed straight after. It didn't lead to anything, but did highlight the exciting moments that seemed to punctuate the game.
Mitchell Moses was directing the play nicely and giving his team every chance, but it was the Tigers that scored first in the second half as David Nofoaluma was set-up down the right-hand side with the cover defence just getting there too late.
The 16-8 lead for the Eels could have been chopped in half just 7 minutes later, but Corey Thompson was deemed off-side from a Nofoaluma kick. The following penalty and set from the Eels saw a beautiful right-foot step and try in the corner from Blake Ferguson. The sideline conversion from Moses put the Eels up 22-8 setting up a challenge for the tiring Tigers.
They gave it a crack though! 3 minutes later, in the 62nd minute, Robert Jennings scored off what was a controversial pass from Moses Mbye. The video ref was not used (as it was deemed a legal pass) and the Tigers found themselves within 10 points with 15 minutes to go.
Benji didn't have the best of games and his pass over the sideline in the 70th minute really highlighted that. The nail in the coffin came in the 74th minute when Brad Takairangi scored his first NRL hat-trick ever with smooth and swift lead-up play from Moses and Nathan Brown.
Benji Marshall almost scored that fairy-tale try in his 300th just minutes from full-time, but was rolled onto his back and denied. A minute later, however and Nofoaluma scored his second, diving over on the right in an almost carbon copy of his first. Maika Sivo was caught napping in defence out wide
A streaker on the field, a boot flung into the tenth row by Brooks and the ensuing penalty rounded out the game. Mitchell Moses' final kick giving his 7 from 7 with the boot and the Eels a deserved 30-18 victory.###>
The win sees the Eels having won 4 of their last 5 games and propels them to 6th on the ladder. That was the Tigers second loss on the trot and sees them slide to 11th.