The Parramatta Eels have progressed to Melbourne with an unconvincing 25-6 win over the Bulldogs in front of 50,621 fans at Telstra Stadium tonight. The Eels led 12-6 at half time.
It was the Dogs who took the early lead, with Matt Utai eventually scoring off a Luke Patten break in the 5th minute. However, following this they would remain shut out for the next 75 minutes.
The Eels opened their account in the 19th minute after Mark Riddell scored after diving on his own grubber kick after it rebounded off a Bulldogs defender.
Minutes before the Eels first try Sonny Bill Williams was taken off the field after suffering an arm injury. He would return later on, but much of the damage during the middle stage of the game was done with him off the field.
The Eels took the lead six minutes before halftime, with Eric Grothe scoring after the Eels kept the ball alive on the last tackle. Ultimately, the Bulldogs were lucky to only be down by six at half time.
The second half was, much like the first, not a great display of football. Brett Finch kicked an important field goal 10 minutes after half time to put the Eels up by seven, despite it appearing as though he had knocked on before taking the kick.
The next 20 minutes consisted of errors, poor kicks and poor finishing from both teams, allowing a very poor Bulldogs team to stay in the match.
Thankfully, the Eels put the nail in the coffin with a Timana Tahu scoring off a Bulldogs error and Jarryd Hayne scoring in the final minute off some enterprising attacking play - showing that if they had employed the same flair throughout the game more effectively it would not have been such a tense finish.
The Bulldogs can wave goodbye to season 2007, while the Eels travel down to the Telstra Dome to face the Melbourne Storm next Sunday, where, on this performance they are likely to be eliminated themselves.
NRL FINALS WEEK 2 - Full Time :: September 15th, 2007 07:45 PM Venue: Telstra Stadium Crowd: 50,621 Referee: Shayne Hayne Half time: Eels 12-6
Parramatta Eels 25 Tries: Mark Riddell, Eric Grothe, Timana Tahu, Jarryd Hayne Field Goals: Brett Finch (1/1) Goals: Krisnan Inu (4/4) Canterbury Bulldogs (6) Tries: Matthew Utai Goals: Hazem El Masri (1/1)
TEAMS (AS NAMED 11/9/07) EELS: Jarryd Hayne, Krisnan Inu, Joel Reddy, Timana Tahu, Eric Grothe, Brett Finch, Tim Smith, Nathan Cayless (c), Mark Riddell, Fuifui Moimoi, Nathan Hindmarsh, Ian Hindmarsh, Feleti Mateo Interchange: PJ Marsh, Josh Cordoba, Chad Robinson, Daniel Wagon BULLDOGS: Luke Patten, Hazem El Masri, Daryl Millard, Willie Tonga, Matt Utai, Ben Roberts, Brent Sherwin, Mark O'Meley, Corey Hughes, Willie Mason, Sonny Bill Williams, Andrew Ryan, Reni Maitua Interchange: Adam Perry, Nick Kouparitsas, Chris Armit, Jarrad Hickey
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Good evening. Tonight we have the first of two huge matches this weekend. Tonight the Eels face the Bulldogs at Telstra Stadium.
In Premier League, the Eels defeated the Knights 32-10.
Huge crowd in already.
CHANGES EELS: Daniel Wagon has moved into the centres for the Eels. Chad Robinson in #16 will start at lock. Reddy and Mateo have moved to the bench. BULLDOGS: Unchanged.
Bulldogs coming down the tunnel now and out through the poxy head.
Both teams now on the park, kickoff imminent.
1 min: The Bulldogs kick off!
2 min: The Bulldogs caught offside and the Eels go on attack from the 30.
4 min: A Finch kick is batted dead by El Masri and Parramatta get a drop out.
5 min: Cayless spills the ball, letting the Bulldogs off the hook.
5 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Against the run of play! Sonny Bill offloads to Patten who breaks up the middle, the ball goes from Patten to Ryan, who finds Tonga, and after slipping over Tonga passes to Utai who scores in the left corner. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 6-0
10 min: A bad start gets worse, Wagon knocks on with the Eels struggling to get out of their own end. The Bulldogs making plenty of metres, the Eels really having trouble.
12 min: Inu safely takes the ball on the full in the in goal, and the Eels hold on.
13 min: The Eels go on attack off a penalty. Inu can't catch a very poor Tim Smith cross field kick.
15 min: Tahu knocks on 10 out with the Eels playing out a promising attacking set.
16 min: Kouparitsas replaces Sonny Bill who is headed up the tunnel.
17 min: Probably the best Eels attacking set nets a drop out after Ian Hindmarsh gets through tacklers and puts in a grubber.
19 min: TRY Parramatta Eels Riddell scores a great individual try - he puts in a grubber, the ball rebounds and is not tidied up by the Bulldogs, and Riddell pounces on the ball right next to the posts. Conversion attempt by Krisnan Inu successful. 6 all
23 min: The Bulldogs bomb a certain try. Ryan makes a break off an offload, and with support on both sides he kicks ahead and the ball goes dead. Good scrambling Eels defence though.
25 min: The Eels making plenty of yards, and go on attack off another penalty.
27 min: A pass to Nathan Hindmarsh is knocked on as Hindmarsh ran far too close to Tim Smith.
27 min: INJURY - Sonny Bill apparently suffering a corked forearm - currently unable to grip the ball. Meanwhile the Bulldogs get a scrum on halfway.
29 min: Hayne returns a Patten knock on with interest, running over 30 metres before Parramatta lose the ball a play later.
30 min: The Bulldogs feeling charitable though, Ryan loses the ball just short of halfway.
31 min: Parramatta go on attack, off yet another penalty.
32 min: Wagon drops the ball while playing it, just a metre out. The Bulldogs let off the hook. Utai, however, is next to drop the ball.
34 min: TRY Parramatta Eels A great try by the Eels. Hayne offloads on the left side of the field and the ball goes to Mateo who passes wide to Wagon, and with the defence up Reddy finds Grothe has no trouble scoring the right corner. Conversion attempt by Krisnan Inu successful. Parramatta Eels 12-6
40 min: A Brett Finch field goal attempt right on half time is blocked before it left the boot by Andrew Ryan.
Both teams back on the field now.
40 min: Back underway at Telstra!
42 min: Mateo knocks on attempting an offload. Not a great start to the half on attack from the Bulldogs - the Eels looking better despite the error.
44 min: The Bulldogs run the ball on the last after the Eels pressure the kicker, and look good despite eventually being wrapped up.
45 min: INJURY UPDATE - Sonny Bill Williams may have a fracture to his forearm. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs get a penalty and go on attack.
46 min: Odd passage of play. Kouparitsas loses the ball, the Eels spread it wide to Inu who has the ball stripped and the Bulldogs go back on attack - and get another penalty.
46 min: VIDEO REF - For a Bulldogs try...
46 min: NO TRY - Clearly not a try in the first place, Sherwin is held up.
47 min: The Bulldogs spread the ball wide but the Eels regroup brilliantly. El Masri puts up a centering bomb that is defused by Mateo. The Eels get a penalty for everybody being offside.
50 min: Sherwins puts in a terrible kick that goes dead, and the Eels are let off the hook.
55 min: Fui Fui charges down a Roberts kick, and Parramatta get a penalty to go deep on attack.
57 min: The Bulldogs hold out another Eels attacking set.
58 min: Hayne makes a great kick return and loses the ball, Hayne then strips the ball of Patten while getting up from losing the ball himself, and Parramatta get possession.
61 min: Utai makes a break, his pass back inside is knocked on by Andrew Ryan.
63 min: Parramatta go close to scoring again - a Tim Smith kick is kicked again by Hayne and the ball beats everyone dead.
66 min: Another dire last tackle option by the Bulldogs. Probably their best kick so far was the bomb from El Masri.
68 min: Finally a decent kick from the Bulldogs - a chip ahead to El Masri who knocks on passing back to his inside support. Sonny Bill returning to the field.
69 min: CROWD - 50,621
70 min: The Eels go close to scoring again.
72 min: Sherwin puts up a bomb and Inu has no trouble underneath it - 2007 is rapidly slipping away from the Bulldogs
72 min: Reddy breaks down the right side and is dragged into touch. Sheer inability to finish is keeping this game close right now.
80 min: TRY Parramatta Eels One final try to the Eels, they spread the ball wide to Tahu who throws a fantastic pass to Hayne who dots down in the corner. Conversion attempt by Krisnan Inu successful. Parramatta Eels 25-6
FULLTIME, and the Eels have eliminated the Bulldogs with an unconvincing 25-6 win.