In a nerve-wracking showdown, Parramatta staged a remarkable comeback and narrowly escaped a mammoth scare from Mikaele Ravalawa and the prideful Dragons. The painstaking 26-20 victory over St George Illawarra was not an easy one for the team, with Ravalawa racking up four tries in the first 50 minutes.
The 2022 grand finalists managed to claw their way back into the game. With three tries executed in the span of 12 minutes during the second half, Parramatta managed to ascend to ninth position on the NRL ladder. However, the Eels showed signs of struggle throughout much of the match.
Eels‘ captain Junior Paulo displayed his relief through a thankful gesture to the sky after wrapping up a 63rd-minute try that served to level the field. Evidently, Parramatta needed all the divine intervention they could secure.
Inspiration did eventually trickle down from above with less than ten minutes left in the game. Dylan Brown, who was making his return to the field after a prolonged NRL suspension, managed to land a crossfield kick on the Dragons‘ line.
Among those who persevered and stepped up to the challenge were Paulo, co-captain Clint Gutherson and the significant figure of Mitchell Moses. These individuals contributed significantly, despite a hefty part of the club’s salary cap being allocated to their sidelined colleagues.
Their collective fightback signalled an admirable display of team spirit and determination.
Arthur made his mark on the tournament, scoring his first try within the first eight minutes of his debut. Shortly afterwards, Cartwright rose to the occasion and penned his name on the scoresheet.
Although the Dragons had a 16-10 lead at half time, Parramatta coach Brad Arthur quickly responded by positioning Sean Russell on Ravalawa’s edge. Russell’s subsequent dive into the corner was countered by Ravalawa courtesy of Lomax’s offload, resulting in the Dragons leading 20-10.
Not to be defeated, Eels skipper managed an effective tackle, causing Jacob Liddle to lose handle of the ball. This resulted in the NRL Bunker ruling a knock-on rather than intentional strip that reversed a try to Talatau Amone.
The resilient Russell found his footing in the 59th minute, fending off Ravalawa’s offensive with a step back, and eventually paving the way for Paulo and Cartwright to cement the match-winning play.
Now Parramatta is set to face-off with the high-performing Broncos, followed by the Roosters and Panthers. This forthcoming lineup of opponents is undoubtedly the toughest among all finals competitors.
However, their recent triumph gives hope to the Parramatta supporters, signifying that for the time being, the team lives to fight another day.