Parramatta struggles past the Bulldogs - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Parramatta struggles past the Bulldogs

By Adrian Warren 23/08/2008 11:17:56 PM Comments (0)

Parramatta winger Luke Burt made a timely return from injury in Saturday night's NRL double header, guiding the Eels to a 26-12 win over the Bulldogs to enhance their finals hopes.

The Eels, who started the round two points out of the eight, remained in contention despite producing a lacklustre display against the struggling Bulldogs in front of almost 30,000 fans at ANZ Stadium.

Burt was a late replacement for Parramatta's top tryscorer Joel Reddy and contributed 14 points through a try and five goals from as many attempts.

Parramatta trailed 12-6 at the break, but turned the game around in a critical eight-minute period midway through the second term.

Burt, who missed Parramatta's previous two games with a rib injury, plunged over in the left-hand corner in the 53rd minute.

He converted his own try to level the match at 12-12 and put the visitors ahead seven minutes later with a 40-metre penalty.

Bulldogs captain and second-row forward Andrew Ryan was penalised by referee Steve Lyons for falling on a tackled player and the Bulldogs seemed to lose some heart after the decision and Burt's kick.

Halfback Daniel Holdsworth put the restart out on the full and Parramatta clinically capitalised on the unexpected possession in the ensuing set, with second-rower Chad Robinson scoring a try, converted by Burt.

The Bulldogs, who conceded 214 points in losing their previous five games, showed plenty of spirit and missed some opportunities to slash the deficit.

Prop Jarrad Hickey was held up in the 67th minute and three minutes later centre Tim Winitana dropped the ball over the line after Eels winger Tony Williams failed to gather a Holdsworth kick.

Centre and lively debutant Jamal Idris was tackled just short of the Eels' line a minute later, as Parramatta held on.

The Eels added a spectacular final minute try to five-eighth Kristopher Keating with Burt landing his fifth goal from as many attempts.

Parramatta appeared to switch off after opening up a 6-0 lead in the 10th minute after Burt converted a try to centre Taulima Tautai.

The Bulldogs were the more enthusiastic and effective side for most of the remainder of the mistake-ridden first half.

Their enterprise was rewarded with tries to winger Heka Nanai and Winitana, both of which were converted by fullback Hazem El Masri, to give the home team their six-point halftime buffer.

Bulldogs forward Brad Morrin was placed on report for a high tackle on Eels fullback Jarryd Hayne and was penalised for another high shot on Burt six minutes later.

Parramatta coach Michael Hagan said Burt probably came back a week earlier than he should have but the player said he pulled up fine from Saturday night's game.

"I wasn't 100 per cent sure about how my ribs were going to go and to get through the 80 minutes and play solid, I was very happy," said Burt, who wore protective padding.

Hagan felt his team made the game tougher for themselves in the first half than it should have been but said they responded after half-time.

"I thought the second half was a lot more composed and when we got ourselves in the game properly we got it nutted out," Hagan said.

Eels halfback Brett Finch said the Eels were playing with a lot more confidence than a month ago, but probably suffered from the short turnaround from last playing last Monday.

"I thought we were a little bit flat from a short turnaround from Monday night, obviously the Tigers before us were probably a bit off the pace too," Finch said referring to the early game of the double-header.

"We had a lot of defence and a lot of turnovers probably added to a lacklustre first half, but halftime probably saved us, it gave us a breather and we started again."

Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes said his team played much better than in recent weeks and was pleased with the efforts of Idris, Utai, Ryan and Charlie Leaeno, who he thought played his best game for the club.

"We played some good football in the first half and deserved the lead but in the second half we made a few errors and a couple of penalties on the back of those and we just got a little bit fatigued and went away from the game we were playing in the first half."

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