2021 Preview: St George Illawarra Dragons
17 hours ago | Justin Davies
The Parramatta Eels played their best attacking football of the season, which coincided with Semi Radradra's best performance of 2017, to defeat the Melbourne Storm 22-6 at AAMI Park.
The Eels stunned the crowd with a 16-0 lead after 23 minutes, which proved Parramatta were intent on breaking the trend of losing six of their last eight matchups with Melbourne.
The Semi-Trailer's first touch of the football started by collecting a high bomb from Brodie Croft, bursting past three defenders before being tackled at halfway.
That start to the set created the space for Bevan French, from a cut out pass by Mitchell Moses, to cross for a try in the corner on the last tackle in the fifth minute.
Radradra, marked by fellow Fijian winger Suliasi Vunivalu, got the best of their battle which was punctuated when Vunivalu was sent to the sin bin in the 11th minute for not releasing the Eels livewire after one of his four first half line breaks.
The Eels lost captain Tim Mannah in the 13th minute and he didn't return because of a failed head injury assessment; but it didn't stop their fast start as they posted another try three minutes later through Moses to create a 10-0 lead.
The Storm's depth was put to an extreme test as six players missing on origin duty (Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater, Will Chambers, Tim Glasby and Cameron Munster), players the ladder leaders missed sorely.
The home side lost more players when Curtis Scott was ruled out pre-game due to illness and when Cheyse Blair left the field with a leg injury in the 27th minute and did not return.
When Vunivalu returned from the sin bin, the Eels were set up attacking the Melbourne line and Takairangi provided a quick pass to catch out the Melbourne winger, allowing Radradra to cross for his 21st minute try and a 16-0 lead.
Melbourne's lone try came from unlikely circumstances. At the 36th minute they were within 30 metres of the tryline when Jarhome Hughes threw a long cut out pass, giving Vunivalu time to scoot down the sideline and kick in field for the chasing Hughes to score beside the goal posts.
Goal kicking duties were given to Joe Stimson with the absence of Smith and Munster. Stimson slotted it which gave Melbourne confidence of winning by only being down 16-6 at halftime.
The Eels were slightly off in the second half compared to their fast half class in attack, the relentlessness of the Storm kept the match tight. A Clint Gutherson try in the 70th minute sealed the result, which came from running around Tohu Harris who was forced to play out of position at right centre.
The win doesn't move Parramatta from eighth spot on the ladder, but it does keep a four point separation from the ninth placed Penrith Panthers after they won 16-8 against the Manly Sea Eagles in the earlier Saturday match.
Next week the Melbourne Storm and Parramatta Eels take their last bye.
Melbourne Storm 6 - Parramatta Eels 22
Venue: AAMI Park
Halftime Score: Melbourne Storm 6 Parramatta Eels 16
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Semi Radradra
2 points - Nathan Brown
1 points - Clinton Gutherson
MELBOURNE STORM (6)
Tries: Jahrome Hughes
Conversions: Joe Stimson (1/1)
PARRAMATTA EELS (22)
Tries: Bevan French, Clint Gutherson, Mitchell Moses, Semi Radradra
Conversions: Clint Gutherson (3/4)