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Eels crash Benji's return with six-try romp

Eels crash Benji's return with six-try romp

It's official - this is a vastly better Eels team than the one that recorded consecutive wooden spoons.

On the back of a 36-0 towelling-up of a disappointing Dragons outfit including returned superstar Benji Marshall, the Eels have broken through for the sixth win of their 2014 campaign - surpassing the five wins they recorded for the entire last season.

With a second-half blitzkrieg that included two tries in three minutes upon the resumption, the Eels made short work of an obliging Dragons side, who completed just 19 of their 37 sets to repeatedly gift Parramatta prime attacking real estate and make the long-awaited comeback of Marshall a decidedly unhappy one.

Too good to be left idle on the nightstand, and far too talented to be left on a Super Rugby reserves bench, Marshall was guilty of trying too hard in an effort to spark the Dragons attack, evidenced by four errors in the opening 40 minutes, and compounded by a mocking "Benji" chant from a merciless capacity crowd of 18,631 at Pirtek Stadium.

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The former Tigers and Kiwi skipper did exhibit a few class touches, though that will prove little consolation for Dragons as they conceded over 30 points for the third consecutive outing and slumped to their sixth loss in seven starts.

Giving little indication of the slaughter imminent, Parramatta squandered a number of early attacking chances through poor passes throughout the opening exchanges, though the Dragons proved just as obliging, giving away four piggy-backing penalties in the Eels' own half in the first 15 minutes.

The Parramatta faithful were kept on tenterhooks for an entertaining but undoubtedly sloppy first quarter of the match, with the Dragons looking most dangerous when Marshall and Gareth Widdop combined on the right side of the ruck.

Yet it was the home side who troubled the scoreboard attendants first in the 20th minute, when a right-side raid saw hooker Nathan Peats slot into first receiver and deliver a sublime cut-out ball, leaving Kangaroos winger Brett Morris as lost as a penguin in the desert and sent Ken Sio in for his eighth try of the season to give the Eels a 6-0 advantage.

Half an hour in Marshall sprung to life, displaying the audacity for which he was renowned before leaving the code, belting the ball downfield from a 20-metre tap in an effort to find touch. The Eels managed to clean up the play despite a spirited chase from the Dragons recruit, though soon gifted the visitors another opportunity through an error, and from the ensuing set of six Marshall engineered his first try assist of 2014.

Unfortunately for Red V fans the benefactor was opposing playmaker Corey Norman, who swooped on a Marshall knock-on from a poor pass to sprint 70 metres for his first try in the blue and gold and send the Eels into half-time up by two converted tries.

Junior Paulo came out of the sheds as though shot from a cannon, powering over the top of Mitch Rein in a bullocking 30-metre run before offloading for skipper Jarryd Hayne to maintain Parramatta's ascendancy and stretch the lead to 18.

The Eels were at it again just three minutes later, as Sio crossed for his second in the right corner after the ball passed through eight pairs of hands to leave a number of Dragons defenders clutching embarrassingly at thin air. Chris Sandow continued his perfect afternoon off the tee, converting from the sideline to push the Eels out beyond reach with half an hour to go.

Boom front-rower Pauli Pauli then got himself across the line in the 63rd minute courtesy of an offload at the line by Hayne, who himself barged over for a second four-pointer nine minutes later to cap a stellar performance in which he also ran for 187 metres, broke four tackles and set up a try.

Parramatta Eels 36 (K Sio 2, J Hayne 2, C Norman, Pauli tries; C Sandow 6 goals) defeated St. George-Illawarra Dragons 0 at Pirtek Stadium. Crowd: 18,631.

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