Wests Tigers have suffered a narrow defeat in Holden Cup today, going down 25-18 to the Parramatta Eels in Round 21 action at ANZ Stadium.
Both sides went into the game even on competition points, with the see-sawing encounter finishing at four tries each as conversions proved the difference.
Willie Peters’ side went into the match missing a host of stars, with Jacob Liddle a late call-up to the Intrust Super Premiership side along with Under 20s eligible forward JJ Felise.
After enjoying a wealth of possession and field positon in the early stages, the Eels eventually capitalised with prop Alex Twal slicing through the defence and finding Michael Doolan in support who raced 30 metres to score.
Doolan converted his own try from right in front of the posts, giving Parramatta a 6-0 lead after 11 minutes.
Wests Tigers were next score, very much against the run of play, with fullback Daniel Roberts defusing a kick and showing great speed to race away in a spectacular 90-metre effort.
Veiru Mapesone was unable to convert the try, with the Eels holding a narrow 6-4 lead after 17 minutes.
The try seemed to put a spring in the steps of the Wests Tigers players, driving down field from the following set, with Mapesone putting Toa Mata’afa through a hole and the speedy outside back drew in the fullback and hit Tony Tali who strolled over to score.
Mapesone converted the try from next to the posts, extending his side’s lead to 10-6 after 20 minutes.
The roll continued just minutes later for Wests Tigers, this time with a bit of luck going their way, as Mapesone’s wayward pass bounced up into the hands of an unmarked Obed Karwhin who went over to score in the right corner.
The Wests Tigers’ playmaker was unable to convert the try from the sideline, however his team held a convincing 14-6 lead after 25 minutes.
Just before the half time break, Parramatta struck back with replacement forward Kurt De Luis barging over under the posts, with Doolan’s conversion narrowing Wests Tigers’ lead to 14-12 going into the sheds.
The start of the second half was very similar to the first, with the Eels enjoying a huge amount of possession before eventually cracking the Wests Tigers defence in the 53rd minute through hooker Denzal Tonise.
Doolan converted the try, with the Eels pulling back ahead 18-14.
Wests Tigers set-up a grandstand finish when Karwhin went in for his second try in the 67th minute, with the towering winger beating three Eels defenders to make his way over the line.
Mapesone’s sideline conversion attempt narrowly missed, leaving the scores locked up at 18-all.
Parramatta halfback Troy Dargan put his side in the lead with a field goal in the 73rd minute, slotting it over for a 19-18 score-line.
Wests Tigers had a chance for victory three minutes from full-time, however it was ruled that Tali lost control of the ball in an effort to score.
Parramatta scored a try on the full-time buzzer, with winger Jermaine Mati-Leifi going over in the left corner, with Doolan adding the extras for a final score of 25-18.
The Eels’ narrow victory resulted in them leap-frogging Wests Tigers on the Holden Cup ladder, with both sides currently in the top eight with just five games remaining in the regular season.
Parramatta Eels 25 (Doolan, De Luis, Tonise, Mati-Leifi tries; Doolan 4/4 goals; Dargan field goal) defeated Wests Tigers 18 (Karwhin 2, Roberts, Tali tries; Mapesone 1/4 goals)