The 2022 NRL Grand Final rematch took place on Thursday night and produced a stunning contest that went into Golden Point before a Mitch Moses field goal handed the Eels a hard fought first victory for 2023.
The match began being fought predominantly through the middle and it wasn't until the 14th minute that the scoreboard attendant was required to do some work.
Parramatta shifted the ball left to Dylan Brown who put in a grubber behind the Panthers line where Bryce Cartwright following through regathered and scored a clever try. Mitch Moses converted.
Across the next 15 minutes, the Eels dominated both possession and field position, but the Panthers defence were equal to the task, none moreso than fullback Dylan Edwards, who diffused a number of clever attacking kicks from Moses, as did fellow Panthers winger Sunia Turuva.
After Izack Tago tapped one of Moses' grubbers dead, Nathan Cleary attempted a short drop out, but it didn't travel the minimum 10 metres. Mitch Moses then landed a penalty goal to give his side an 8-0 lead.
A rare attacking set by the Panthers began on halfway when Isaah Yeo stepped back off his left foot, straightened his run and then broke through the Eels middle defence, offloaded to Scott Sorenson who then passed back inside to Edwards in support, who ran 30 metres to score under the posts. Cleary converted.
This try spurred the Panthers attack and defence and the momentum started to finally swing their way to end the half. A high tackle allowed Nathan Cleary to level the scores with a penalty goal right on halftime.
The second half started much the same like the first, with points being hard to come by as both sides struggled to get the upper hand, but it was the Panthers who were the stronger.
But in the 58th minute Parramatta sent the ball right with players standing in tackles and getting passes away before debutant Brendan Hands got the ball in space and he raced 30 metres to score a good team try. Moses again converted.
7 minutes later, Moses Leota was penalised for a late challenge on Moses after he kicked and Moses kicked another penalty goal.
The Panthers reduced the margin to just 2 points in the 72nd minute when Cleary, on the last tackle, dished a short ball to the lead runner Zac Hosking, who pushed through the line and scored under the posts. Cleary converted.
With just 30 seconds left in the game Junior Paulo was sin binned for a high tackle, 40 metres from the Panthers line. Cleary kicked for touch and the Panthers started their set 10m inside the Eels half, with just 12 seconds left in the game. From the tap, the ball went to Cleary who landed an astonishing 45 metre, 2 point field goal to level the scores again as the half ends, sending the game into golden point.
Inside the first minute of golden point, Mitch Kenny was penalised and sin binned for a high tackle and in the ensuing set, Parramatta went deep into the Panthers half where Moses calmly potted the match winning field goal.