The Parramatta Eels have booked themselves a spot in Week Two of the NRL Finals after scoring an entertaining and dramatic 28-20 victory over the Newcastle Knights in Rockhampton.
Things started awfully for the Eels as the very first kick-off of the game from Clint Gutherson went out on the full. The ensuing set saw the Knights take advantage of the field position when the Eels defence was caught napping on the outside and Henri Tuala took advantage for the first of his hattrick.
The momentum continued to swap either way and the Eels were next to take advantage, as they elected to go wide and on the left there was ample space for Waqa Blake to stroll through. An easy conversion for Mitch Moses pushed the Eels out to a 6-4 lead.
Both sides had players go on report in the space of four minutes with Sauaso Sue put on report for a Leg Twist whilst Marata Niukore was put on report for Parramatta after being penalised for a late hit on Connor Watson. The Knights took advantage of field position when Hymel Hunt was able to get over the line after again the wide defence of the Eels. There were a few nervous moments as the bunker reviewed the try but it was confirmed. The Knights took a 10-6 lead.
The final five minutes of the half was all blue and gold as the Eels swung the momentum right around. The Eels scored two tries in the dying minutes with the first going to Mitch Moses who clapped on the afterburners and beat some flimsy Newcastle defence. The second of Parramatta's try came through some brilliance from rookie Will Penisini who pulled out a brilliant flick pass out to Blake Ferguson to score.
After taking a 16-10 lead to the break, the Knights extended their lead out when Blake Ferguson scored his second of the afternoon after a floating ball from Mitch Moses drew in the defenders and Ferguson had a free run to the line to score.
Despite going down 22-10, the Knights hadn't given up hope of getting back into the contest and Enari Tuala had his second when he was only just able to control the ball against his leg and get the ball down. Jake Clifford's conversion was excellent from the sideline to close the gap back to just six points.
The Knights got themselves well and truly back in the contest when Enari Tuala got over for his hattrick after Kalyn Ponga turned on the magic with an amazing cut-out pass out to Tuala to score in the corner. Jake Clifford's conversion from the sideline was waved away and the Knights trailed by two.
Controversy surrounded the final try of the game when Review Official Grant Atkins ruled that Will Penisini was taken without the ball deciding that he would have scored. The penalty try sealed the victory for the Eels after Mitch Moses pushed the margin out to 8 after his conversion in front.
Next weekend, the Eels have a Western Sydney derby battle against the Panthers in Mackay whilst it is season done for the Knights after being knocked out in the first week of the finals for the second year in a row.