New Zealand Warriors concede an absurd try on Parramatta while Waqa Blake’s double boosts Eels’ top four chances
- Parramatta defeated the Warriors 28-18 on Friday night at CommBank Stadium
- Midway through the second half, the Warriors conceded a fatal attempt
- Waqa Blake grabbed a first one-two for the Eels, who moved up to fifth place
- Warriors finished 13th and have lost six of their seven away games
The Warriors were once again their own worst enemy on Friday night, conceding a disastrous try in a 28-18 loss to Parramatta at CommBank Stadium.
With the hosts leading by 10 points midway through the second half, Eels halfback Mitchell Moses was about 45 yards from the Warriors’ try line when he set up a hopeful bombshell.
Warriors winger Marcelo Montoya appeared to have collected the ball but spilled it as it fell forward, sending it bouncing behind him towards the goal area.
Clint Gutherson (center) was dealt an easy try by the Warriors in the second half
Eels flyer Bailey Simonsson was the quickest to react, picking up the steeden without breaking the stride before producing a backhand offload when three Warriors players tried to get in touch.
The ambitious pass failed to find its intended target but the New Zealand team again failed to defuse the threat, giving Clint Gutherson just enough time to collect the ball and dash over the line as he hit two desperate dives.
It was a case of sweet revenge for the Eels captain, who had been rocked by a huge strike from Montoya just minutes earlier.
The Warriors’ Eels had to work their way to victory at practically full speed, their preparations disrupted by a non-Covid illness that swept through camp throughout the week.
The Eels skipper fell after picking up on a series of mistakes made by the Warriors
The Warriors have lost six of their seven away games this season and remain 13th
But the New Zealanders had every reason to be positive about Friday night’s game. They returned to Auckland for a win ahead of the bye and had unveiled Andrew Webster as their new coach for 2023.
The Warriors’ confidence showed early on in their defense. The Eels were tackled 25 times within their 20-yard zone, forcing three misses before finally scoring.
When center Waqa Blake broke through, his four-pointer marked the first time Parramatta had crossed the try-line ahead of his opponent since round seven.
Maika Sivo snagged an erratic pass from Shaun Johnson and stormed away 10 minutes later, teaming with Blake for his second and leaving the Warriors 10 points behind.
Maika Sivo scored the Eels’ fifth and final try in Friday’s 28-18 win
Parramatta had to work hard for the win, which temporarily put her in fifth place
But the Warriors refused to fold.
They hit back through Montoya and stayed in contention after the break, thanks in no small part to a lack of discipline on either side.
In the first 10 minutes of the second half, the referee whistled for four errors, two penalties and two ruck violations, but the Eels were better equipped to emerge from the swamp and reignite their attack.
Seven members of Parramatta’s forward group finished in over 100 yards, setting the stage for a 15-minute period of dominance that saw the Eels go home.
Isaiah Papali’i’s reported indecision to honor his contract with the Wests Tigers made headlines this week, but the headlines didn’t stop him from getting away with the try that put the Eels on the road to victory.
Marcelo Montoya (right) was one of the Warriors’ best players and scored a try
The New Zealanders showed a strong defensive performance in the first quarter of the game
The win will be crucial to Parramatta’s hopes of a place in the top four, especially given the difficult draw to close the season.
In their last seven regular-season games, the Eels meet just one side currently not in the top eight but now just outside the top four on points.
The Warriors have already had great chances to play finals football, but their recent defeat almost confirms they will be watching from afar.
By the end of the round, they could have up to four wins in the top eight and just one win away from the bottom of the ladder, depending on other results.