Dragons snatch victory from Eels with last-minute onslaught

Scott Bailey
Dragons snatch victory from Eels with last-minute onslaught

Ladder leaders St George Illawarra have narrowly avoided the biggest upset of the NRL season, coming from behind to beat Parramatta 20-18 at WIN Stadium.

After they trailed 18-8 with seven minutes to play, Euan Aitken and Matt Dufty both chased down grubbers to give the the Dragons the win and keep them first for another week.

Aitken's try also ensured under-fire Queensland halfback Ben Hunt's night would at least end on a positive note, after he looked to lack confidence as the Saints fell behind earlier on.

With his place in the Maroons' team for next month's State of Origin dead rubber in question, Hunt three times kicked into Eels defenders and twice turned the ball over with errors - albeit one from a difficult Jeremy Latimore ball.

How did they do that? Pic: Getty

But all was forgiven when a grubber into the in-goal sparked the previously lacklustre Dragons, as Aitken latched onto it just before it went dead to score.

The Red V's comeback was then complete three minutes later, when Widdop kicked for fullback Dufty to score his second try of the night.

It was a cruel end for the Eels, who had been the better team for the majority of the night and looked set to become the first last-placed side to beat a team ranked first since April 2015.

After they went to the break up 12-8, Parramatta scored their only points of the second half when Jarryd Hayne spun and twisted his way over in the 48th minute from a flat Clint Gutherson ball.

Hayne, who required a pain-killing needle in his left shoulder before playing, had his best game of the year with some nice touches in the first half and helped force the powerful Luciano Leilua out as he looked set to score in the second.

Fellow veteran Tim Mannah also turned it on to set up the Eels' first points with a sidestep and break from within his own half to put Bevan French over, while Nathan Brown scored the other try.

The Dragons' win came without the rested Tyson Frizell and Leeson Ah Mau, while Blues Origin prop Paul Vaughan is likely to face a fine after being placed on report for a trip.

The Red V also entered a contender for the try of the year with their only first-half four-pointer, as Dufty finished off a movement that included a Vaughan offload, Nene Macdonald kick, a mid-air Widdop bat-back and Tim Lafai flick-pass.