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Eels still hoping for finals

18/05/2003 09:00:20 PM Comments (0)

Parramatta coach Brian Smith hasn't given up hope of making the National Rugby League finals despite his out-of-luck side finding another way to lose.

The Eels became the first outfit to taste defeat in a premiership game - outside of the finals - under the golden point system, which was controversially introduced this season.

It was an historic day at Brookvale Oval, with the Sea Eagles winning 36-34 in the eighth minute of extra time before 10,387 fans.

The defeat - Parramatta's eighth this season - left the Eels stranded in second last spot, eight points out of the top eight after the Bulldogs' controversial 18-16 win over St George Illawarra last night at WIN Stadium.

Canberra was toppled from top spot by Brisbane on points differential after the Raiders' 26-18 loss to Penrith last night and the Broncos' 36-16 win over Melbourne at ANZ Stadium today.

The Eels led 34-24 with only 18 minutes remaining, but tries to Scott Donald and Ben Walker levelled the scores at the end of 80 minutes before Walker kicked a penalty goal in extra time.

When asked whether he thought his side could still make the finals, Smith replied: "Yeah. Once we come out of it and we start to get a lot of our more experienced players back there's no reason why we can't get on a good roll-on and push ourselves right back up there."

In Sunday's other matches, Cronulla won its second straight game with a 30-14 victory over South Sydney at Toyota Park and the Sydney Roosters climbed into third place with a 36-14 win over Newcastle at Aussie Stadium.

"It was such an important game for us to win today," Roosters coach Ricky Stuart said.

"They (Newcastle) played against a really good football team today."

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