Eels beat Warriors, close in on top four

·3-min read

Parramatta remain in the race for an all-important NRL top-four spot by accounting for the Warriors 28-18 at CommBank Stadium.

At virtually full strength, the Eels were made to work for their victory by the Warriors, whose preparations were disrupted by a non-COVID sickness that swept through camp during the week.

But the New Zealanders had reason for positivity heading into Friday night's game. They returned to Auckland for a win before the bye and had unveiled Andrew Webster as their new coach for 2023.

The Warriors' confidence was evident in their defence early. The Eels were tackled 25 times in their 20 metre zone and forced three drop-outs before they could finally score.

When centre Waqa Blake broke through, his four-pointer marked the first time since round seven that Parramatta had crossed the tryline before their opponent.

Maika Sivo snaffled a wayward Shaun Johnson pass and streaked away 10 minutes later, teaming up with Blake for his second and the Warriors were 10 points in arrears.

But they refused to fold, striking back through Marcelo Montoya and remaining in the contest after the break thanks in no small part to ill discipline from both sides.

In the first 10 minutes of the second half, referee Todd Smith blew his whistle for four errors, two penalties and two ruck infringements but the Eels were better equipped to rise from the mire and reignite their attack.

Seven members of Parramatta's forward pack finished with over 100 run metres, laying the platform for a 15-minute period of dominance that saw them home.

"We felt like we needed to target a number around metres tonight, which you need to control possession and then it gives you good field position," Eels coach Brad Arthur said.

Isaiah Papali'i's reported indecision about honouring his Wests Tigers contract made news this week but the headlines didn't stop him from barging over with the try that set the Eels on the path for victory.

"We just couldn't build pressure," Warriors interim coach Stacey Jones said.

"At crucial times, we came up with some errors and against a team like that, they'll hurt you. They did that tonight."

The win is crucial to Parramatta's hopes of securing a top-four spot, especially given their tough draw to round the season out.

In their final seven regular season games, the Eels face only one side that are not currently in the top eight. They are now only outside of the top four on points differential.

"We look forward to (playing Brisbane) Thursday night," Eels captain Clint Gutherson said.

"This is the type of footy you want to be playing at this time of year."

The Warriors were already at long odds to play finals football but their latest loss all but confirms they will watch from afar.

By the end of the round, they could be as many as four wins out of the top eight and only one win off the bottom of the ladder, pending other results.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting