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Debutant double caps off Eels second-half blitz

Heavy favourites heading into the clash, the fourth-placed Eels were stunned by cellar-dwellers Canterbury in the opening half.

Despite this, they would strike first and lead until just before the half-hour mark, with Ryan Matterson stealing Mitch Moses’ cross-field chip from the clutches of Aaron Schoupp and diving over the stripe in the seventh minute.

Unfazed, Jake Averillo asked questions of Parramatta’s right-edge defence with his kicking game, eventually producing the Bulldogs’ equaliser.

His high-ball spilt from the grasp of Haze Dunster and skipped to Dylan Napa, whose 360 spin put the exclamation mark on his first try in 44 games, levelling the scoreline at 6-6.

Parramatta’s Marata Niukore was sin-binned on the cusp of half-time, forcing the suddenly undermanned Eels to desperately defend their line until the interval.

And gallantly defend they did, until Canterbury’s third consecutive attacking set became too much to withstand.

A decisive Harbour Bridge pass from Brandon Wakeham caught Dunster inside, and arced into the lap of Tuipulotu Katoa, who couldn’t be stopped by a sliding Clint Gutherson in the left corner.

Against all odds, the Bulldogs lead 10-6 at the break.

Whilst it was all smiles for Canterbury at half-time, they would relinquish their shock ascendancy early into the second-half with a costly error.

Twenty metres out from his own line on the last tackle, Averillo passed into the shoulder of an unsuspecting Napa and Moses pounced on the loose ball, kicking it clear of the Bulldogs’ line.

With nothing separating Moses and the in-goal, Wakeham brought him down off the ball, illegally stopping a certain try.

A penalty try was duly awarded, and the Eels lead 12-10.

From there they never looked back, kicking into gear to remind us why they’re a top-four side.

Their advantage stretched beyond a converted try when Shaun Lane burst into the backfield, rendering last-man-in-defence Nick Meaney a witches hat with plenty of runners in support on his journey to the in-goal.

A Luke Thompson sin-binning further hindered the Bulldogs, and Parramatta’s front-rowers combined in the final seconds of his absence to take full advantage, with Junior Paulo’s pass sending Reagan Campbell-Gillard over from close range.

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With the result beyond doubt, debutant Sean Russell put his name up in lights, scoring twice in a matter of minutes to close out the game.

Masterful passing from Clint Gutherson created both the tries, and he was one of a number of standout performers for Parramatta as they won the second-half 30-0 on their way to a 36-10 victory.

Moses kicking game was on song as he scored a try and assisted one, whilst Isaiah Papali’i finished with 234 run metres.

The Eels were simply a class above, and move up to third place on the ladder following the result.



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