NYC Match Report: Eels overpower fatigued Raiders
The Raiders NYC team were unable to stop a rampaging Parramatta Eels team, going down 34-20 in their round six Holden Cup encounter. Showing signs of fatigue from a five-day turnaround, the Raiders blew an impressive 20-4 half-time lead.
The Raiders were coming off a bruising encounter with the Bulldogs on Monday night, and knew they would be up against a fired up Parramatta outfit, who were on the end of a thrashing by the Panthers last weekend.
After an early scare courtesy of a Parramatta high kick, the Raiders set out to prove they were awake and focused after a 5.30am bus trip from Canberra to Pirtek Stadium. Woolford went straight to work and set up a rampaging Chevi Ellis who crossed in the right corner. Woolford missed the conversion from the right sideline.
A Raiders error after the restart gifted Parramatta a chance to hit right back. Fast hands and some superb ball movement gave the acrobatic Jermaine Mati-Leifi a chance to grab his first four pointer of the match. The conversion from the sideline missed to keep the scores level pegging.
Nick Cotric soon showed why many have predicted a big future for him, by brilliantly offloading to Thomas Cronan on the right edge. Cronan was able to squeeze past the Eels defence to score in the corner. Woolford converted from the sideline to extend the Raiders lead to six.
A series of sustained pressure by the Eels saw them close to the Raiders line on many occasions. The Raiders defence held firm and they eventually managed to rebound out of their own half. Back-to-back penalities put the Raiders in a great position, with Woolford using a nice short ball to send Jordan Aiono through a gap. Aiono beat the Eels fullback and crossed for the Raiders third of the half. Woolford made no mistake with the conversion and the Raiders lead grew to 16-4.
With only seconds remaining in the half Jack Hickson showed his skill on the right wing, evading several defenders in crossing for the Raiders fourth of the half. Woolford missed the tough sideline conversion, with the Raiders heading into the sheds at half-time leading 20-4.
The first half was highlighted by the monster performances by both team’s forward packs. Daniel Dole put his hand up for hit of the year, when he unloading a monster tackle on a Parramatta forward which resulted in a knock on.
Parramatta came out with a renewed sense of urgency in the second half, throwing the ball wide on multiple occasions and threatening the Raiders edges. A cross-field kick by the Eels was spilled right near the posts, and Mason Cerruto pounced on it to kick-start the Eels fight back. Dargen converted to cut the Raiders lead to 10.
Momentum continued to swing to the Eels, after a series of Raiders errors and sloppy play gave them another shot at attacking. The Eels burly centre Dane Aukafolau had been threatening the Raiders on the edges for the entire game, and finally found enough space to weave his magic and cut the Raiders lead to six.
It didn’t take long before Parramatta again found themselves in an attacking position. Smart play by Michael Doolan saw him dart out of dummyhalf threatening to pass, fooling the Raiders defence before he burrowed across the line. The conversion by Dargen missed to see the Raiders lead shrink to 20-18.
The Eels comeback was complete with 15 minutes left in the game. A grubber kick bounced off the unlucky Tre Williams and right into the arms of Tryell Fuimaono who scored the easiest of tries. Only moments later after the restart, Tui Oloapu brushed past a fatigued Raiders defence to increase the Eels lead.
Another late try to the Eels completed their domination of the second-half, as they eventually ran out 34-20 winners.
Parramatta Eels (Mati-Leifi, Cerruto, Aukafolau, Doolen 2, Fuimaono, Oloapu ,Dargen 1/4, Mati Leifi 2/3 ) 34 defeated Canberra Raiders 20 (Ellis, Cronan, Aiono, Hickson, Woolford 2/4)