The Parramatta Eels have held on for a narrow two-point victory over rivals Canterbury, finishing 18-16 winners to reclaim their position of second on the Telstra Premiership ladder.
It was the penultimate match of NRL's indigenous round and as has been the custom all week player pre-game formed the shape of a boomerang. The match started with both sides fairly evenly matched before Junior Paulo was able to get a late offload away to put Mitchell Moses over the line untouched.
The Bulldogs looked to have hit back straight away after a peach of a pass from Kieran Foran found Marcelo Montoya and the winger went over untouched. The referee declined to use the bunker and immediately awarded a penalty to the Eels for an apparent obstruction, however replays showed that it was a defensive decision. Canterbury opted against challenging for what would've given them the chance to level up after 11 minutes.
One of the most bizarre errors occurred shortly after. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was tackled and got up to play the ball and did so, however it was in the wrong direction. He paid the maximum price for his error, when almost two tackles later Michael Jennings busted the line open and found a lingering Clint Gutherson in support to put the Eels ahead by 12.
Gutherson got his second about 15 minutes later when Mitch Moses showed some great vision to put an early grubber in looking for the Eels custodian. He won the race to the ball and after 30 minutes, the Eels were up 18-0 and it was a question of Parra by how much.
The Bulldogs finally cracked the Eels defensive line 5 minutes later when Forna wound back the clock to execute a short pass to perfection. He took the ball to the line, drawing in Mitchell Moses and then getting it to Raymond Faitala-Mariner, who went over almost untouched.
Canterbury came racing out of the blocks in the second half and it was local junior Jake Averillo who produced a contender for putdown of the year. He raced on to a pass from DWZ and went into full acrobatic mode to somehow remain in the field of play while grounding the ball. Even if the corner post was still considered out of play, the try would've remained.
All of the sudden, the Dogs were looking the most likely and again it was Foran who was at the forefront. In the 52nd minute, the Bulldogs found themselves on the attack yet again and Foran took it to the line. This time, instead of going short, he went out the back to Lachlan Lewis who caught and passed to Montoya, who went over untouched, this time the ref deeming the play legitimate.
After that, both sides had plenty of attacking opportunities however neither could crack the opposition defence. The Eels held on and despite some conjecture over whether there was a deliberate forward pass from Sivo in the 80th minute, the Eels held on for the win.
Next week, the Bulldogs will travel up to the Sunshine Coast to take on the high flying Storm, while the Eels will look to make it 3 in a row against the Sharks at Kogarah.