Parramatta have made it back-to-back home wins to start 2014, powering their way to a 32-16 win over neighbourhood rivals Penrith on Saturday night.
Two moments of brilliance from Eels talisman Jarryd Hayne and a complete kicking game from recalled halfback Chris Sandow was the backbone of a strong performance in front of a raucous home crowd of 14,448.
Penrith looked set to post the first points of the evening when they set up for a long right-side shift, but what should have been a Matt Moylan try assist for David Simmons instead became one for Willie Tonga, as the Eels centre intercepted and ran 90m to post the first points. Sandow, who was primarily brought in to make every four-pointer six, converted for the 6-0 lead.
But Moylan didn't have to wait long to produce a try for an actual teammate, making the most of a Dean Whare flick pass down the right to find a rampaging Isaac John on the inside eight minutes later. The Penrith fullback also added the extras, to lock the game up at 6-6.
After a period of dominance with the ball, a penalty against Penrith finally gave the home side an opportunity in the 27th minute and hooker Nathan Peats – who recorded a remarkable 30 tackles in the first half – took advantage, selling a big dummy to a gullible Nigel Plum at dummy-half to regain, with another Sandow conversion, Parramatta's six-point advantage.
The local derby descended into an arm wrestle again after that, with both sides having tries taken them off them, including a potential try of the year.
Eels centre Will Hopoate was robbed of a remarkable four-pointer in the 33rd, when he found himself on the end of a passage that included more than 10 passes, only for it to be denied by the video referee who found forward Peni Terepo offside from a Jarryd Hayne bomb earlier in the play. The replays weren't needed for Isaac John's no-try two minutes later, ruled the beneficiary of a forward pass in the lead-up.
But the Panthers did manage to grab one just before half-time through second-rower Lewis Brown, who took a leaf out of Peats' playbook and bullied himself over Hopoate to touch down. Moylan, who kicked a game-winner after the full-time siren against the Bulldogs last week, couldn't nail a similar attempt at half-time.
It was Penrith who burst out of the gates upon resumption, Moylan again playing distributor in the 43rd when he put Whare through a hole on a blind side shift.
But the Eels – as they had all night – answered quickly via a powerful charge from second-rower Manu Ma'u just four minutes later. Sandow's extras re-established his side's two-point lead.
The turning point came in the 57th when, with his side holding a slender two-point lead, Eels money man Hayne came up with a bullet cut-out pass for left winger Semi Radradra, who proved just too powerful for David Simmons.
The Eels co-captain turned it on the longer the game went, becoming the third player to score from dummy-half in the game when he powered his way over his opposite number in Moylan in the 68th minute.
And for the finishing touch, Hayne created a neat two-on-one for Hopoate to set up Sio for the final try of the match.Parramatta 32
(Tonga, Peats, Ma'u, Radradra, Hayne, Sio tries; Sandow 4 goals) defeated Penrith 16
(John, Brown, Whare tries; Moylan 2 goals). Crowd: