The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have continued their strong finish to the season by defeating the Parramatta Eels 12-6 in a fierce Thursday night encounter.
Recording four straight wins for the first time since 2016, the Bulldogs refused to surrender against their historic rivals in a match played before 18,071 supporters at Bankwest Stadium - the largest Thursday night crowd in Sydney this season.
Coming into the clash off the back of seven wins from their past eight matches, the Eels started in fine form with mid-season signing Waqa Blake (8th minute) opening the scoring following a brilliant offload from Manu Ma'u close to the line.
Denied a try midway through the first half after Kerrod Holland knocked on in the act of scoring, William Hopoate (38th minute) struck a decisive blow courtesy of two sensational passes from Kieran Foran and Josh Jackson to lock the scores up at 6-all at the change of ends.
With both sides determined to assert their dominance following the resumption of play, tempers flared after Nathan Brown shoulder charged Dallin Watene-Zelezniak without the ball, resulting in the Parramatta lock being send to the sin bin.
Joining his opponent on the sidelines for ten minutes moments later, Reimis Smith led with his head in a scuffle with Maika Sivo that saw both teams reduced to 12 men.
Despite both teams being a man down during a critical period of the match, neither team could strike a decisive blow with Sivo denied on three occasions in the space of ten minutes.
Managing to build pressure on the Eels after repelling plenty of their own, Nick Meaney (68th minute) was awarded a match-winning penalty try after Mitchell Moses led with his feet in an illegal attempt to deny the Bulldogs speedster.
Withstanding a late flurry of attacking football from the Eels during the final moments, the Bulldogs held on to record a deserved 12-6 victory - their sixth win from their past eight matches.
Next week the Eels head to Brisbane on Friday night to take on the Broncos, while the Bulldogs travel to Townsville on Thursday night to face the Cowboys.