Wests Tigers have been run down by the Parramatta Eels 28-16 to suffer a third straight defeat in their Round 17 clash at ANZ Stadium on Monday night.
Leading 16-12 at the break thanks to a masterful first half from James Tedesco and Kevin Naiqama, Wests Tigers were unable to develop any ascendency in the second half as the Eels used a 12-4 penalty count in their favour to post a 12-point victory.
After an early error from the Eels, Wests Tigers looked to have posted first points of the night when Tedesco came close to grounding the ball in-goal off an errant pass from Isaac De Gois. However, upon further review from the video referee, the fullback was ruled to have knocked the ball on and the Eels were granted an early reprieve.
The visitors would take advantage of that shortly after, with captain Tim Mannah crashing over out wide off a short side play to give his side an early 4-0 lead.
Chris Sandow would add the extras to push the Eels’ lead to 6-0 after 13 minutes.
Parramatta would cross in the following set after some enterprising play between Sandow and Corey Norman, with the latter’s pass knocked down by Naiqama, but only into the hands of Luke Kelly, who dived over the line to score.
Sandow again converted to extend the Eels’ lead to 12-0 after 15 minutes.
Jason Taylor’s side would hit back shortly after, however, with a superb cut-out ball from Josh Drinkwater — playing in his Club debut — finding Naiqama on the wing, who stood up his opposite number in Semi Radradra to touch down out wide.
Pat Richards was unable to convert, leaving the score at 12-4 after 22 minutes.
Wests Tigers would cross again through Naiqama just four minutes later, with a wonderful break from Tedesco followed up by a kick from the fullback that gifted the Fijian international winger his second try of the evening. However, again Richards was unable to add the extras from the touchline, with the score remaining 12-8.
After a good shot from Chris Lawrence won the ball back on halfway, Wests Tigers took their first lead of the match in the 34th minute when Richards crossed out wide, with again Tedesco and young gun Manaia Cherrington heavily involved in the build-up.
Richards’ successful conversion gave the home side a 14-12 lead, and it was quickly turned into 16-12 with a penalty goal from Richards just two minutes before the break.
That would be how the score would read as the half-time siren sounded, as both teams entered the half-time sheds at ANZ Stadium in front of 15,347 fans.
Naiqama looked to have crossed for his third try in the 44th minute after some acrobatic work down the sideline, but he was found to have narrowly gone touch-in-goal.
As the penalties began to mount for Parramatta, Wests Tigers goal-line defence continued to come under siege and was eventually broken in the 56th minute when Semi Radradra collected a high ball from Corey Norman to score out wide.
Chris Sandow’s conversion from out wide put the Eels back in front, 18-16.
Chris Lawrence and Delouise Hoeter went close in successive sets to putting the home side back in front as the match entered the final 20 minutes, but were unable to get across the line as the Eels’ goal-line defence scrambled to keep them at bay.
Martin Taupau was placed on report in the 66th minute as the Eels were awarded their 10th penalty of the night, and they quickly turned that into points as another high kick was collected by Radradra, who offloaded back on the inside for Sandow to score.
The halfback converted his own try from out wide for a 24-16 lead after 69 minutes.
Back-to-back penalties again for the Eels gave them a chance to ice the match in the 73rd minute, and they did just that, with Radradra finishing off a back-line move to grab his second try of the night and extend Parramatta’s lead to 28-16.
Following next week’s bye, Wests Tigers will look to bounce back when they take on the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium before returning to Sydney to face the Roosters.
NRL FULL TIME — Parramatta Eels 28 (Radradra 2, Mannah, Kelly, Sandow tries; Sandow 4/5 goals) def. Wests Tigers 16 (Naiqama 2, Richards tries; Richards 2/4 goals)