The Penrith Panthers knock-off the Parramatta Eels 8-6 in an incredible Semi Final contest - a true contender for game of the season.
It's been a while since we've been treated to a gritty thriller and what a game it was between the Penrith Panthers and the Parramatta Eels. After Manly's thrashing of the Roosters last night, it was refreshing to witness a classic finals match which represented the sport for the tough physical contest that it is.
Penrith and Parramatta both had a multitude of chances throughout the game and whether it was disallowed tries or tackles pulling players up inches short of the try line, neither team seemed to be able to land that final punch.
Bizarrely, the winning blow came at the end of the first half as the Penrith Panthers took the lead just before the half-time break through a Nathan Cleary penalty goal. Despite the low scoring fashion of the second half, it was a thrilling viewing experience as both teams traded blows for the duration of the half and for the matter the duration of the whole 80 minutes.
The tries came early for both sides with Parramatta opening the scoring through Waqa Blake in the 10th minute who scored after a Mitchell Moses bomb made Dylan Edwards look like a fool. Blake was able to scoop up the scraps and score untouched next to the posts to open the scoring.
The Panthers struck only minutes later after a brilliant grubber kick from Nathan Cleary found Kurt Capewell who dodged his way past Parramatta's defence to level the scores.
Nathan Cleary's aforementioned penalty goal gave the Panthers the lead heading into the break and that would be the final points scored for the match.
The second half was even better than the first despite no points being scored as both sides traded blows but failed to land any match-winning tries. As the game wore on, the intensity seemed to increase as Nathan Cleary and Mitchell Moses repeatedly earned their sides repeat sets with some great grubber kicks.
As was the nature of this game, both sides found ways to cough the ball up after multiple sets in great field position which allowed the game to ebb and flow in a way which saw intensified periods of pressure for Parramatta and Penrith's defence.
Parramatta and their fans will be devastated after this loss, but they'll be glad about the tough performance they displayed tonight as they pushed the Panthers the whole 80 minutes. Their season ends tonight as the Panthers qualify for next week's Preliminary Final against the minor premiers, the Melbourne Storm.