From the very first hit-up the match, to its final moments, the Round 25 clash between Brisbane and Parramatta was anything but your usual NRL battle. The Broncos entered the game having won five of their last six games and with a chance to secure a double chance in the finals. The Eels with 10 wins from their last 12 but with many still questioning their credentials, were heavy underdogs and required a victory to keep their Top Four hopes alive. It had all the makings of a titanic struggle, instead it produced something entirely unexpected.
It all started when Adam Blair, the man charged with taking the first carry of the game when set upon by a trio of angry Eels, attempted an offload that was as surprising to his team mates as it was to spectators and commentators alike. With the Steeden bouncing invitingly, Kirisome Auva’a gleefully swooped upon it to score the easiest try of his career. A game just 11-seconds old had it’s first try, and the Eels had the perfect start and the quickest try in the competition’s history.
The Eels were simply electric in the games opening 21 minutes, cutting the defence to ribbons racing away to a 24-0 lead. Up against the competition’s second best defence, it was a start beyond the wildest dreams of even the most optimistic Parramatta supporter. The power behind much of the Eels point scoring whirlwind, was the destructive force of Semi Radradra.
With Nathan Brown and Tim Mannah getting through a mountain of early work, the Eels were able to roll forward despite the Broncos fast moving defensive line. This combined with Broncos errors and some smart kicking from Corey Norman and Mitchell Moses, Parramatta were able to launch some decisive attacking raids.
Despite this, the flying winger’s first four pointer was all of his own making. On the 20 metre line and at first receiver on the second tackle, a simple hit-up turned into a Semi special. Quickly finding top gear, he slipped past two defenders and into open field and on an 80 burst, that left an ineffective Darius Boyd come up empty in an awkward looking attempted tackle, and James Roberts left in his wake, as he streaked away to score.
That first try was no fluke because Darius Boyd still doesn’t know where Semi Radradra went. The next two tries were pretty impressive.
Yvonne Sampson – Fox League
His hat-trick, of what would end up a four try haul, was brought up with wildly varied displays of his handling skills. A pin-point kick from Norman, saw Radradra soar high over David Mead to pluck the ball out of the air and bring it down to score before he juggled a Will Smith inside ball, across the line for his third. With 59 minutes to play the Eels seemed to have all but secured the two competition points managing to score more points than the Broncos had conceded in their previous three matches.
The Broncos would give themselves some brief hope with two tries before a smartly worked play down the right hand side sent Michael Jennings over for the Eels. It meant Parramatta took a 30-10 lead into the half time break which was just reward for the precision and aggression with which they attacked the contest.
Before we spend anytime talking about the second forty, it is necessary to marvel at this moment of individual brilliance.
Parramatta and the NRL are most definitely going to miss this extraordinary player. Post game, there was yet another turn in the ‘will he or won’t he’ return to the NRL after his time in French Rugby. Let’s hope he is true to his latest change of heart and we will see him again.
With that said, what are we to make of a second half in which there were a combined 31 missed tackles, 10 handling errors, nine tries and 46 points scored? Is the ease with which Brisbane were able to score in junk time enough to take the gloss of the Eels effort when the contest was hot? Is this somewhat mitigated by the fact that Parramatta lost Tepai Moeroa, Siosaia Vave, Frank Pritchard and Kenny Edwards for large parts of the match to head injuries? One man who wasn’t happy with the second half was Eels Coach Brad Arthur.
The start was good but that’s about all I am happy with, our discipline wasn’t anywhere near good enough. You can’t have 34 points scored against you and think you are going to play good football deep into the Finals. There were some moments there in the game that we didn’t get right and we need to get on top of it.
Brad Arthur – Post Game
Despite this, anytime you come out of Suncorp Stadium with two competition points is something worthy of celebrating. As is the fact that a Top 4 finish still remains a possibility if results fall the team’s way. Who knows what can happen from there?
Parramatta 52 (Radradra 4, Jennings 2, Auva’a, Takairangi, Gower tries; Moses 8 goals) def Brisbane 34 (Mead, McGuire, Ese’ese, Glenn, Moga, Oates tries; Milford 5 goals)
Match Officials: Ashley Klein, Adam Gee.
Sideline Officials: Belinda Sleeman, Tim Roby.
Video Referee: Bernard Sutton, Luke Patten.
Official Crowd: 29,058 at Suncorp Stadium.