ROUND 23 - 2001

Date 10th Aug 2001
Venue Sydney Showground
Coach Steve Folkes
Captain Darren Britt
Referee Bill Harrigan
Crowd 21895
Bulldogs V Eels
16 24
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Scorers

Player Tries Goals F Goals Points
Braith Anasta 1 0 0 4
Shane Marteene 1 0 0 4
Nigel Vagana 1 0 0 4
Hazem El Masri 0 2 0 4

Match Review

The Parramatta Eels have secured the minor premiership with a 24-16 win over the 2nd placed Bulldogs in front of a sell out 22,000 crowd at the Sydney Showground. The game of football lived up to the billing with the match hanging in the balance in the final two minutes until Vaealiki streaked away to score to extend the scoreline to the biggest margin at anytime during the game. The lead changed hands several times during the match and there were little between either sides come fulltime.

The Eels led 8-0 early after a 70 metre to forward Nathan Hindmarsh and a penalty goal to Taylor; the Eels points coming against the run of play as the Bulldogs dominated the entire opening to the game. The Bulldogs hit back with a penalty of their own, then struck with a try to Nigel Vagana in the 33rd minute. El Masri had an off night with boot and missed the conversion. Another penalty to the Eels saw them sneak into halftime ahead 10-6. It was half in which both sides were unable to ascert any authority, with neither giving the other side anything other than a rare opportunity to score points.

A try to Braith Anasta only four minutes after halftime put the Bulldogs ahead for the first time in the match 12-10 up; but a further two penalty goals to Taylor put the Eels ahead 14-12. One of those penalties was controversial with Craig Polla-Mounter on the ground injured - his presence interfered with the play of the ball - but injured players should not be penalised. With only 14 minutes remaining, Shane Marteene leaped high to take a cross field chip and scored in the corner. El Masri's conversion once more sailed wide, but heading into the final 10 minutes the Bulldogs were heading for the upset victory.

The Eels hit back just minutes later when Scott Donald chased through a grubber to score. Both Luke Patten and Donald forced the ball at the same time according to the video referee, but in that case the laws state that a try must be ruled. The Eels showed terrific composure to hit back after the Bulldogs looked likely to run out winners.

The final six minutes saw the Bulldogs throw everything they had at the Eels side but were unable to crack through the tenacious defence. With their last chance in the final minutes trying to crack the defence, a offload went astray - was picked up by Vaealiki who raced 50 metres to score and seal the match in the Eels favour. The match didn't deserve an eight point margin in the end...

Bill Harrigan's performance was laced in controversy with several key penalties throughout the match, including a lopsided penalty count in the 2nd half to the Parramatta side. Harrigan awarded the penalties in the Eels favour 7-6 for the match; but managed to call four of the Eels penalties almost directly in front of the posts - Taylor kicked 4 penalty goals during the match - both teams scored three tries each.

The Eels showed true premiership credentials in winning the match; while the Bulldogs will be thoroughly disappointed with the result, but happy they were able to put forward their challenge to the title. The eels will have to fight for the crown, as there was nothing between the two teams tonight. It was a terrific game of football and if we see anything like this in the semi-finals it will be a finals series for the ages.

Source: www.rleague.com

Data provided by Clint Crofts