Parramatta remain undefeated in 2020 after they laid on three successive tries in a matter of minutes to record a stunning come from behind win over the Panthers at Bankwest Stadium tonight.
With the Panthers leading 10-0 in the 64th minute, it was former Panther Waqa Blake who came back to haunt his former side, when he produced a devastating fend on opposite Stephen Crichton to score the Eels first try. Blake didn't stop there, stepping past Crichton minutes later and then finding his skipper Clint Gutherson who raced away to tie the game up late in the second half.
Parramatta then kicked clear when Eels half Mitch Moses kicked ahead with the Panthers on the backfoot. The kick produced a horror bounce for Panthers fullback Caleb Aekins and into the arms of Ryan Matterson who slid over to score and secure a superb win for Parramatta over their local rivals.
It was a disappointing loss for the Panthers who looked in control after the hour mark and then saw their 10-0 lead evaporate in a matter of minutes. The loss was further compounded by the loss of backrower Kurt Capewell who left the field in the first set of six with a suspected medial ligament injury.
With both sides looking to take the lead on the NRL ladder, the Battle of the West was a huge clash for both sides and as expected the game then turned into a see-sawing affair, with both number seven's in Nathan Cleary and Mitchell Moses launching some monstrous high kicks early which were keeping each sides respective back three on their toes.
After both sides were denied tries due to interference on defenders from attacking kicks, which saw both the Eels' Ryan Matterson and Panthers' Dean Whare denied early tries. It was the visitors who struck first, when newly re-signed Panther winger Brian To'o collected a wayward Caleb Aekins pass off his bootlaces to step past his opposite Maika Sivo and carry three more Eels defenders over the line to score the first try of the match. Cleary missed his first conversion of the year from out wide and Penrith led 4-0.
Off the back of a penalty against Moses for a high shot on Panthers' rookie Crichton, Penrith scored on the left-hand side after Jerome Luai and Cleary combined to allow the rookie centre to exact some revenge by putting his muscle-bound winger Josh Mansour over to score. Cleary converted to give his side a 10-0 lead at halftime.
The arm wrestle continued after the break, as the Eels did their best to power their way through the Panthers middle. A penalty from Panthers prop James Fisher-Harris then sparked the Eels, when the firebrand prop took Eels lock Nathan Brown off the ball when chasing a kick. Off the ensuing play former Panther Blake, managed to produce a huge fend on his opposite Crichton to open the scoring. This sparked two more Eels tries, with both Blake and Nathan Brown featuring with some decisive runs and from seemingly out of nowhere the Eels were in control.
The Eels had a chance to ice the game when Moses had a golden opportunity missing a late field goal to give his side the win, however Parramatta defended a late Panthers onslaught to secure their best start to a season since they last won the competition in 1986.
Next week the Eels have the ultimate challenge when they face the defending premiers, the Roosters at Bankwest Stadium next Saturday night in what will no doubt be the game of the round. Penrith also face a tough match up when they play the Melbourne Storm at Campbelltown Sports Ground next Friday night.