Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs tonight proved too strong for a resilient Parramatta side scoring the last 24 points in the match to runaway 32-12 winners.
There was just one change from last week’s side that fell just short against Penrith with Moses Mbye replacing Josh Reynolds at five-eighth. The Bulldogs went into the clash with a great recent record against the Eels, winning seven of their past eight encounters.
Brett Morris finished with 196m and 11 tackle busts against the Panthers and the former Dragons flyer was straight into the action against the Eels, saving a certain 40/20 from a Chris Sandown kick in the opening minute of the match.
Thereafter, on the back of a string of penalties, Parramatta errors and a forced dropout, the Bulldogs camped on Parramatta’s line for what seemed an eternity. They eventually broke through in the 12th minute courtesy of an Mbye cut out ball to Curtis Rona who dived over in the corner. Trent Hodkinson’s conversion attempt was waved away, shaving the right post and leaving things 4-0.
When a kick from Mbye slipped through the legs of Reece Robinson and over the sideline for a 40/20, it gave the Bulldog’s a great opportunity to extend their lead. The blue and whites took full advantage in the 21st minute with Brett Morris proving too elusive down the right edge. Hodkinson missed the conversion, with the score staying 8-0.
Parramatta pivot Chris Sandown limped off the field in the 26th minute having aggravated an old ankle injury. After the Eels composed themselves and built pressure of their own, they finally hit back in the 34th minute through Semi Radradra. Robinson hooked his conversion to leave it 8-4.
From the next set a Parramatta break released Radradra but Brett Morris did enough to unbalance the powerful Fijian winger before a brilliant Josh Jackson tackle forced him over the sideline. Radradra limped off with a knee injury after that and didn’t return.
It was all Parramatta late in the first forty but the Bulldog’s defence stood tall, holding on for an 8-4 half-time lead.
It was the usual suspects at the top of the hitups count with James Graham (13) and Aiden Tolman (11) leading the way. Lichaa (22 tackles) and Jackson (20) were the standouts in defence.
The Bulldogs made a mess of the restart resulting in Sam Kasiano being forced over the sideline just metres out from his own line. Parramatta didn’t let the chance slip, with backrower Manu Ma’u proving unstoppable so close to the line and giving a second try assist to Corey Norman. Robinson struck the post with his conversion, leaving it level at 8-8 in the 43rd minute.
Ma’u crossed for his second just two minutes later, picking up a Norman grubber which was fumbled by Brett Morris. Robinson missed again for a 12-8 score line.
Bulldogs retaliated in the 51st minute with a backline movement giving Tim Lafai enough space to drag his opposites cross field before giving Sam Perrett a free run to the try line on his inside. Hodkinson added the extras for a 14-12 lead. Sandown returned to the field before the subsequent kick-off.
An inconspicuous bomb from Mbye in the 56th minute was let bounce by Parramatta with the ball finding itself with Greg Eastwood who toed through a grubber. After a scramble, the ball popped out the back for a trailing Perrett to collect his second of the night, this time under the posts. Hodkinson nailed the two for a 20-12 lead.
Hodkinson failed to find touch with from a penalty in the 59th minute which gave the Eels a chance to strike back but a strong ball-and-all tackle from Perrett forced make-shift winger Brad Takairangi into touch.
Brett Morris sealed the deal in the 73rd minute with an inside ball from James Graham allowing Morris to collect his second of the match. Hodkinson added the two to extend the lead to 26-12.
Rona collected his own double in the 78th minute, taking advantage of an overlap down the left edge with Beau Champion injured. Hodkinson struck his conversion sweetly from the sideline to make it 32-12.
Bulldogs next Friday night head to Brookvale Oval to face Manly in Round 3. Kick-off at 7:30pm local time.
BULLDOGS 32 (Perrett 2, Brett Morris 2, Rona 2 Tries; Hodkinson 4 Goals) def. Eels 12 (Ma’u 2, Radradra Tries)
At: ANZ Stadium