The Canberra Raiders fell victim to a near-perfect performance from the Parramatta Eels, slumping to a 36-6 defeat at Pirtek Stadium this afternoon.
Faced with the difficult task of completing a five-day turnaround, the Raiders attack struggled to make an impact, with Parramatta’s line speed setting the tone early on in the contest.
Parramatta halves Kieran Foran and Corey Norman linked up to terrorise the visitor’s weakened right hand defensive edge in the opening stanza, crossing for four tries before halftime.
The blue and gold outfit shot out of the blocks in the early going when in-form five-eighth Norman split the Raiders’ defence to put Michael Jennings over the line, with a successful conversion giving the hosts a 6-0 lead after five minutes.
It looked as though the Green Machine had struck back just minutes later when a Blake Austin try was sent to the Bunker, before further review showed the Origin hopeful had lost control of the Steeden on his way to the ground.
Parramatta rubbed salt into the wound when the incumbent New South Wales centre Jennings steamed on to a Norman short-ball to cross under the posts for his second try of the afternoon. Michael Gordon added the extras to push Parramatta’s lead to 12-0 after fifteen minutes.
Kiwi international Foran continued his scintillating start to the contest in the 26th minute, squeezing between two Raiders big men before dashing 35 metres to score almost untouched.
Faced with the monumental task of coming back from eighteen points down in enemy territory, Canberra’s assignment was made a whole lot tougher when Dally M Medal leader Josh Hodgson exited the field with thumb and knee injury concerns.
Things went from bad to worse just minutes later when Parramatta backrower Beau Scott gathered a loose ball to burrow over the line, stretching the deficit to 24 after just 31 minutes of football.
Returning to the paddock 24 points in arrears, the Raiders faced an uphill battle in the second half to give themselves a chance in the contest.
A spate of early second-half penalties in Canberra’s favour gave the visitors a chance to attack the Parramatta defensive line, but the hosts’ seemingly impenetrable defence caused a Raiders error and the pressure valve was released.
It was a different story at the other end of the Pirtek Stadium turf, with Parramatta scoring their fifth try of the day when Kenny Edwards dived on a loose ball in the in-goal to notch up his first four-pointer. Gordon continued his perfect day with the boot, slotting the conversion for a 30-0 lead with just over twenty minutes remaining.
Two of Canberra’s best in attack linked up to bring the side’s first points of the day in stunning fashion when Blake Austin grounded a Jordan Rapana kick in the 62nd minute of the contest. Jarrod Croker’s conversion moved him to within 33 points of the club’s all-time point scoring record.
The Eels put the icing on the cake with just over five minutes remaining, when centre Brad Takairangi leapt above the defensive line to collect a Norman kick and fall over the try line.
The Raiders now turn their attention to a highly-anticipated return to GIO Stadium next Sunday afternoon against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks.