EELS BEAT GUTSY WESTS TIGERS 26-18
By Wayne Cousins
Friday, August 21, 2009
Wests Tigers’ six game winning streak came to an end with a 26-18 loss to the Parramatta Eels at the Sydney Football Stadium tonight in round 24 of the Telstra Premiership.
In front of a record crowd of 34, 272 - the biggest Sydney crowd of the season - Wests Tigers gave it their all. Their cause was not helped by the early loss of winger Taniela Tuiaki, who has a suspected fractured ankle.
The loss leaves Wests Tigers on 26 points, one behind Parramatta, with two rounds remaining.
Wests Tigers forward John Skandalis made a shock return from a quad injury to take his place on the bench.
Keith Galloway started the game with Danny Galea dropping back to the interchange bench.
For Parramatta, Ben Smith started the game in the second row to replace Joe Galuvao, who goes back to the bench. Feliti Mateo replaced Jeremy Latimore on the bench.
The opening five minutes saw both sides start the match well in a match played in front of a massive crowd.
Parramatta has thrown plenty at Wests Tigers in the opening 15 minutes but the defence has been solid.
Wests Tigers entered Parramatta’s quater for the first time in the 16th minute but a grubber kick through on the last for full-back Tim Moltzen was fielded under the posts.
Wests Tigers winger Taniela Tuiaki grasped his right ankle in the 18th minute in a two man tackle and sought treatment from trainer Andrew Leeds. He was assisted from the field by two trainers.
Utility John Morris replaced Tuiaki, resuklting in centre Blake Ayshford moving to the left wing and Morris going to the centres.
A piece of Benji Marshall magic in the 20th minute saw Ayshford score in the left corner in a play that had Wests Tigers supporters clapping. The video referee was called on and the try was awarded.
It was a superb piece of play by Marshall who fllicked the ball behind his back after he brushed off an attempted tackle by centre Joel Reddy and dummied to centre Chris Lawrence.
Marshall failed to convert the try for a 4-0 lead.
Video referee Paul Simpkins was again called on in the 22nd minute to rule whether winger Beau Ryan had put a foot on the line in scoring after an acrossfield run by Marshall. Ryan was treated for a left knee injury.
The try was awarded ‘benefit of the doubt’ to give Wests Tigers an 8-0 lead. Ryan got up and returned to the field of play. Marshall failed to convert the try.
Wests Tigers club doctor Donald Kuah said Tuiaki has a possible fractured ankle.
Parramatta hit back in the 29th minute when full-back Jarryd Hayne found space out wide to link up with winger Luke Burt to scpre out wide.
Referee Jared Maxwell placed prop Bryce Gibbs on report for using his knees in diving in on Burt after he scored, awarding an eight point try.
Inu converted the try for an 8-6 scoreline before moving in front of the posts to convert the penalty try for an 8-8 scoreline.
A break downfield by Marshall and a good offload to forward Corey Payne saw him race downfield before referee Tony Archer ruled a forward pass from Payne to Morris. As play went on, Morris was hit high in a tackle by Hayne but no action was taken.
Hayne produced a 40/20 kick on the last tackle to give Parramatta the scrum feed 10 metres out a minute out before half-time. Wests Tigers dug deep in defence and a drop ball five metres out inside the final 10 seconds was swooped on by half-back Robert Lui.
Lui raced 50 metres downfield before being swamped by four defenders on the halfway line to leave the scores locked at 8-8 at half-time.
Parramatta opened the scoring in the second half when the ball was spread right for Inu to beat Lui to score in the corner. Inu converted the try from the sideline for a 14-8 lead after 47 minutes.
The crowd figure of 34, 272 is the biggest Sydney crowd this season, eclipsing the 31, 664 figure for the Bulldogs v Eels match. Wests Tigers’ previous biggest crowd was 29, 970 set against Souths at the SCG earlier this season.
Gibbs pulled off a trysaving tackle on Hayne in the 53rd minute and then seeked rreatment but got up to play on.
Wests Tigers got back to 14-12 with 23 minutes remaining after they decided to run the ball on the last tackle. The ball was spread left across the backline for stand-in winger John Morris to dive over in the corner.
Marshall failed to convert the try.
A short pass by prop Fuifui Moimoi sawe Hayne make a break down the middle before losing the ball 10 metres out from the tryline.
The Eels extended their lead through a try to half-back Jeff Robson after Parramatta managed to make seven offloads after Feliti Mateo started the play. Inu converted the try for a 20-12 lead with 13 minutes remaining.
Wests Tigers hit back in the 71st minute when a cut out pass by hooker Robbie Farah found Ryan who raced downfield before looking to pass inside but found his way to the corner where he planted the ball down before it bounced. The video referee was called upon who ruled try through ‘benefit of the doubt’ to make it 20-16.
Marshall converted the try from the sideline for a 20-18 scoreline with eight minutes remaining.
A long cut out pass by Marshall found open space for Lawrence but the pass was ruled forward by Archer in a cruel blow for the Wests Tigers.
Wests Tigers were delivered a knock blow when a chip kick on the last tackle by Hayne saw the ball bounce up. He grasp the ball within an inch of Moltzen to regather to run next to the posts to score. Inu converted the try for a 26-18 victory.