Fulltime score: Round 11 Parramatta Eels 18 v Manly Sea Eagles 12
The victory was set up in the last five minutes of the first half as the Eels slipped in for two late tries to hold an 18-6 lead at the break. It proved to be a crucial passage of play in a game where tries proved hard to come by.
The second half didn't reach any great heights as both sides bombed several opportunities, although Steve Menzies did manage to cross early in the second 40 to ensure the Sea Eagles remained in the hunt for the duration of the match. Manly certainly missed the presence of Blues reps Ben Kennedy and Anthony Watmough, but Menzies stepped up to the mark with a solid performance.
For the Eels, Mark Riddell made a notable difference to the team while he was on the field, and fellow forwards Glenn Morrison, Dean Widders & Fui Fui Moi Moi laid a strong platform that augurs well for Parramatta as they attempt to continue their climb up the ladder.
Scorers: PARRAMATTA EELS 18 Tries: Tahu, Morris, Widders Goals: Burt 3/3 MANLY SEA EAGLES 12 Tries: Donald, Menzies Goals: Witt 2/2
Venue: Parramatta Stadium Crowd: 18,193 Referee: Tim Mander Half time: Eels 18 Sea Eagles 6
Live commentary: Welcome to Parramatta Stadium for Friday Night Football, as the Eels prepare to host the high-flying Sea Eagles.
0 min: Kickoff!
2 min: The Eels have forced a goal-line drop out with their first set - plenty of pressure at the start for the Sea Eagles.
4 min: TRY - Eels Timana Tahu crosses the stripe for the opening try, set up beautifully by a cross-field kick from Tim Smith. Luke Burt adds the extras from out wide. Eels 6 Sea Eagles 0
8 min: Chad Randall kicks out on the full with a clearing kick, giving the Eels more excellent field position 40 metres out.
10 min: NO TRY - Another cross-field kick from Tim Smith is just a fraction too far for Luke Burt to control, and he almost takes out a camera-man in the process.
13 min: A goal-line drop out from Manly goes out on the full, giving the Eels a penalty right in front of the posts. After taking a quick tap, Mark Riddell loses possession after trying a quick play-the-ball.
18 min: Nathan Cayless charges down a Michael Monaghan kick five metres out from the Eels try-line, snuffing out the first attacking chance from Manly.
20 min: NO TRY - Glenn Morrison is tackled without the ball as he attempts to chase his own kick over the try-line, but the video ref penalises the Eels instead for an earlier incident.
25 min: Still 6-0 to the Eels. A bit of an arm-wrestle is unfolding here.
31 min: TRY - Sea Eagles Parramatta fumble the ball on half-way, and the ball is immediately passed wide to Scott Donald who flies up the touch-line to open Manly's account. Michael Witt kicks the extra two. Eels 6 Sea Eagles 6
The video ref is checking a possible Eels try ...
37 min: TRY - Eels John Morris grabs a try from a Tim Smith grubber kick, but the field position was set up by a great 30 metre run from Dean Widders. Luke Burt adds the extras. Eels 12 Sea Eagles 6
The video ref is checking another possible Eels try ...
40 min: TRY - Eels Dean Widders is rewarded for some strong efforts with a try in the corner as Parramatta finish with a flourish in the first half. Luke Burt's kick is a beauty. Eels 18 Sea Eagles 6
HALF TIME: Eels 18 Sea Eagles 6
Manly have put up some stubborn resistance in the first half and have managed to score from an Eels mistake, but Parramatta are certainly looking stronger in the forwards and give the impression that they have plenty left in the tank for the second 40.
Possession: 51% Eels, 49% Sea Eagles Completion: 15/24 Eels, 20/22 Sea Eagles
The second half is now underway!
The video ref is now checking a possible Manly try ...
43 min: TRY - Sea Eagles Despite a possible obstruction, Steve Menzies is awarded a try to get Manly off to exactly the start they would have been wanting. Michael Witt's conversion is successful. Eels 18 Sea Eagles 12
49 min: Manly are dominating play at the moment while the Eels are putting themselves under all sorts of pressure with plenty of unforced errors.
53 min: Paul Stringer (Eels) has gone down with a serious leg/knee injury. The medi-cab has been called.
56 min: Manly show some desperate defence to keep the Eels out after consecutive penalties gave Parramatta excellent field position. Still 18-12, and anybody's game.
62 min: Daniel Wagon strolls through the Manly defensive line and looks set to score, but the play is called back for a forward pass. UPDATE: Paul Stringer's injury is much better than first feared, and he may even return to the match.
66 min: Still 18-12 to the Eels as both sides search for the spark to break the match open.
73 min: The Eels are camped on the Manly line at the moment, but the Sea Eagles defence is holding firm for now.
The video ref is called on again as the Eels claim a barge-over try ...
74 min: NO TRY - There was only an inch or two in it, but Ben Smith is correctly denied by the video ref.
76 min: John Morris and Tim Smith have both missed field goal attempts within twenty seconds of each other as Parramatta look to wrap the match up.
FULL TIME: Eels 18 Sea Eagles 12
A scrappy second half has seen Parramatta do just enough to hang on against a committed Sea Eagles side, with both teams probably wishing they had played much better.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - M Riddell (Eels) 2 - S Menzies (Sea Eagles) 1 - D Widders (Eels) -----------------------------------------