Parramatta shock minor premiers

Daniel Anderson’s Parramatta completed a remarkable turnaround to defeat minor premiers St George 25-12 in the NRL play-offs.

The 8th placed Eels upset the Dragons just nine days after losing 37-nil at the same venue in round 26.

It’s the second time in as many years team eight has defeated team one, and sees the Eels book a home town clash against the Gold Coast Titans next Friday night at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Playing in near 30 degree heat and in front of a Dragons-dominated crowd of 18,174, the Eels had to overcome the late withdrawal of Krisnan Inu and an opening quarter in which the Eels spent most of their time defending deep in their own territory.

Unable to crack the Eels defence, the Dragons were forced to go to the boot of Jamie Soward to secure first points and a 2-nil lead.

Conversely, the Eels first foray into the Dragons 20 metre zone went desperately close to getting the desired result, Eric Grothe failing to collect a bouncing pass with the line beckoning after 19 minutes.

After withstanding more Dragons attack the Eels turned the tables to score the first try of the afternoon, Daniel Mortimer winning the race to a Hayne bomb then knocking down for Luke Burt to score under the posts.

Burt’s conversion made it 6-2 Eels after 27 minutes.

The crowd was well and truly silenced four minutes later – with the Eels having travelled nearly the length of the field off a Hayne break – when Mortimer shrugged through a Dean Young tackle to score, extending the lead to ten points at 12-2.

The Dragons finally found the tryline eight and a half minutes out from the break, when Soward offloaded close to the line for Dan Hunt to score.

Soward converted to narrow the Eels half time buffer at 12-8.

Honours were shared over the opening 18 minutes of the second half, until a Nathan Fien 40-20 gave the Dragons a scrum feed 10 metres out from the Eels line.

The Dragons first set of six came to an end with a Matt Cooper touchdown, which was called back after Ben Creagh was ruled to have knocked on in the lead up.

The try came at the end of the second set – but it went the way of the Eels, with Grothe latching onto an intercept before sprinting 85 metres to score.

Burt’s conversion opened up a ten point lead once again, the Eels leading 18-8.

The Dragons searched for the spark required to get them back into the game and they found it in left winger Brett Morris, who touched down in the corner with ten minutes left on the clock for an 18-12 score line.

The big play went to Burt with five minutes left, the winger completing a 100 percent night by nailing a field goal from 41 metres to secure the win and send the Dragons faithful spilling towards the exit.

60 seconds later Hayne provided an even bigger play, beating six defenders to score beside the posts, with Burt’s conversion sealing a 25-12 victory.

The Eels win means fifth placed Manly – who lost to Melbourne on Friday night – and the seventh placed Newcastle – who lost to the Bulldogs on Saturday night – are out of the running for the 2009 Telstra Premiership title.

TELSTRA PREMIERSHIP – 4TH QUALIFYING FINAL

Pirtek Parramatta Eels 25 (Luke Burt, Daniel Mortimer, Eric Grothe, Jarryd Hayne tries; Luke Burt 4 goals from 4 attempts; Luke Burt field goal) defeated the St. George-Illawarra Dragons 12 (Dan Hunt, Brett Morris tries; Jamie Soward 2 goals from 3 attempts) at WIN Jubilee Oval. Half Time: Eels 12-8. Crowd: 18,174

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