A valiant Warriors side was held at bay by a sketchy Parramatta Eels outfit 24-18 at Gosford this afternoon.
Parramatta got off to a strong start against the Warriors, but two quick tries late in the half helped get the Warriors back in the hunt. A hard fought second half saw neither side take advantage as Parramatta hung on to score a tough victory.
The Eels opened the scoring in the fifth minute when Shaun Lane on the short side produced a stunning no-look cut-out pass at the line, found Maika Sivo unmarked and the winger walked over for an easy try in the left corner. Mitch Moses failed to convert from out wide.
An awkward bounce denied Blake Ferguson of his first try just 4 minutes later. Then in the 16th minute, things started to heat up between opposing locks Jazz Tevaga and Nathan Brown, resulting in the former being sin binned for ten minutes for what appeared to be a rather innocuous push on Brown. The referee deemed Tevaga had hit Brown and was duly binned.
Parramatta extended their lead in the 24th minute after Clint Gutherson hit a gap, stepped out of a tackle and then chipped over the head of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. Jai Field zoomed after the ball and regathered it to score a brilliant try. Moses converted.
Just two minutes later the Eels were in again when a grubber at the line beat Waqa Blake and the Warriors defenders, but not Blake Ferguson, who got a sweet bounce this time. He regathered and raced away to score under the posts, breaking his try scoring drought. Moses again made no mistake with the conversion.
The Warriors rallied in the 5 minutes before halftime, to put on two rapid-fire tries to get themselves back in the game.
In the 35th minute Chanel Harris-Tavita chipped to the left corner, where the mid-air contest saw Hayze Perham tap it back. Harris-Tavita regathered but was immediately yet managed to offload just before the tackle was completed. Tuivasa-Sheck received the ball and quickly passed over the top to Jack Murchie, who quickly sent it along to Perham, who was back on his feet. He tried to use his footwork to create a gap, but with no luck, so he fired a pass back infield to Harris-Tavita, who sent it further along to the right, over Kodi Nikorima's head. The ball bounced to Tohu Harris, who got caught, but still drew a second defender before passing to Peta Hiku, who very nearly died with the ball before getting a last gasp backdoor flick to Nikorima, who came back in and then grubbered. Harris-Tavita followed through, received a friendly bounce and he dived to regather and score all in the same motion. Harris-Tavita converted.
The Warriors then scored in the very next set after the restart. Tuivasa-Sheck backed up from a long way back, exploded onto a ball and through a huge gap in the middle. He ran 50 metres before getting a pass infield while being tackled. The ball hit the ground and comes off Nikorima's feet. Harris-Tavita followed close behind, cleaned up the loose ball and then scored to the right of the posts. Harris-Tavita converted to reduce the deficit from 16 points to just 4 in the space of 2 and a half minutes.
The half ended with Moses kicking a 40/20 but the halftime siren denied the Eels a chance to make anything of it.
The second half was a dour struggle between both sides, but in the 64th minute Parramatta pulled ahead when a Moses deft chip kick found Waqa Blake, who positioned himself perfectly, took the ball cleanly and fell over the line to score on the right side. Moses converted to give the Eels a 10 point lead.
But three minutes later the Warriors hit back after they sent the ball wide to the left on the last tackle to Gerard Beale, who couldn't quite get outside Ferguson, so he dropped it onto his toe and the gentle grubber is forced for a try by Perham. Harris-Tavita converted from out wide again.
A Mitch Moses penalty goal in the 76th minute gave the Eels a 6 point lead and ultimately the victory.