Western Suburbs Magpies have suffered a second straight defeat in the Knock-On Effect NSW Cup competition, going down 28-26 to a strong Parramatta Eels side today at Bankwest Stadium.
After seeing a nine-game winning run snapped last week by the top-of-the-table Penrith Panthers, the second-placed Magpies went into their top-four showdown against the Eels needing to bounce back but were unable to get the job done — conceding two tries in the opening six minutes and never quite recovering.
Kiah Cooper's length of the field intercept against the run of play threatened to set Western Suburbs up for a stunning late comeback — drawing within two points late on with tries to Allan Fitzgibbon and Jock Madden — but the home side held their nerve to secure with an important two points in the end.
The defeat sees Wests now level on points with the Eels in second place and determined to bounce back next week against the Newcastle Knights.
Jakob Arthur and Will Penisini got the home side off to the perfect start when both crossed for tries in the opening six minutes, before Jordan Rankin got in on the act soon after — scoring his side's third try and starting a perfect afternoon with the boot to give Parramatta a dominant 18-0 lead after just 22 minutes.
Playing his first game in the back row this season, Samoa international Joey Leilua pulled one back for the Magpies in the 27th minute but that was quickly responded by the Eels who restored their 18-point advantage with a try to Michael Oldfield.
Zach Dockar-Clay's jinking effort just before the break saw the visitors cut the score to 24-12 at half-time — keeping themselves in the contest at Bankwest Stadium.
Blake Ferguson's acrobatic effort shortly after the interval put the Eels in the clear and seemingly on their way to two points before a late comeback from the Magpies threatened to produce a boil-over — Cooper and Fitzgibbon crossing for tries in the space of two minutes to take the scoreline back to 28-20.
Madden's converted effort with eight minutes to go had the match set up for a grandstand finish as the Eels lead was reduced to just two, but a late attacking set couldn't produce the match-winning try required to get the visitors over the line.
Wests will look to bounce back next Saturday when they take on Newcastle.
Parramatta Eels 28 (Arthur, Penisini, Rankin, Oldfield, Ferguson; Rankin 4/5 goals) def. Western Suburbs Magpies 26 (Leilua, Dockar-Clay, Cooper, Fitzgibbon, Madden tries; Madden 3/6 goals) at Bankwest Stadium
Match: Eels v Magpies
Round 14 -
Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Sydney