Eels pounce on Dragons misfortune - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels pounce on Dragons misfortune

11/05/2008 07:01:46 PM Comments (0)

Parramatta coach Michael Hagan proudly proclaimed his side to be finally on a roll, but their 19-18 NRL victory over St George Illawarra at ANZ Stadium Sunday was not without controversy.

The Eels capitalised on the Dragons' misfortune and mistakes to grind out their first back-to-back wins of the season, a Brett Finch field goal in the 74th minute handing them a vital 19-12 lead.

Dragons centre Matt Cooper added a try in the 79th minute after fielding another Beau Scott charge down, but the red and whites could not mount any attack in the final 30 seconds of play or get within range of a levelling field goal.

"That's our first official roll of the year, two wins in succession," said Hagan.

"I still think we are a work in progress, we know that we need to improve next week and in the coming weeks but we are still healthy, we have got some players in pretty good form and a bit to look forward to for the rest of the year."

Parramatta led 12-6 at halftime, but it could have easily been the Dragons with the six-point buffer if not for a dubious decision by video official Steve Clark.

Clark denied a 32nd minute try to Jason Nightingale after ruling Cooper had stripped Eric Grothe in the tackle on his kick return.

It proved a 12-point turnaround as the Eels carried the ball from the ensuing penalty across halfway for Nathan Hindmarsh to break the line and pop an offload to Burt to score under the posts for a 12-0 lead.

Even referee Sean Hampstead understood the significance of the situation, remarking "that was a hard decision Clarky" as Burt lined up his conversion attempt.

Cooper was adamant he did not strip Grothe in the tackle, the Dragons upset Hampstead was about to award the try only to send it to the video ref after protests from the Eels.

"In my eyes it was a fair tackle ... I think there should be some onus on the attacking player to hold the ball," said Cooper.

But Dragons coach Nathan Brown refused to blame the referee, saying his players' poor defensive effort on the ensuing play cost them victory.

"Our response to the no try was poor. We had three minutes off and they scored from the next set," he said.

"If they don't score after, we win the game. So that definitely wasn't the referee's fault."

Early in the second half the Dragons suffered another near-miss, but this time it was their own fault as Soward made a break but ignored inside support from unmarked Mark Gasnier to instead pass to lock Stuart Webb who was dragged into touch by Joel Reddy.

The Eels pounced immediately, scoring off their next set with Brett Finch drawing Gasnier out of the defensive line for Jarryd Hayne to score untouched for an 18-6 lead.

Proving it just wasn't the Dragons day, Soward grabbed an intercept off a loose Daniel Wagon pass in the 46th minute and had a free passage to the line only to fall over on the slippery surface.

"We were a bit unlucky, Jamie Soward took an intercept and fell over. Sometimes you're just not supposed to win," Brown lamented.

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