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Hayne double inspires Eels triumph

Hayne double inspires Eels triumph
A three-try burst in the space of 13 minutes from a Jarryd Hayne-inspired Parramatta has kept the Eels' slim finals hopes alive while at the same time sounding the death knell on a Titans season once again let down by a poor showing at home.

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More than 14,000 fans converged on Cbus Super Stadium for the die-or-die encounter but it was those wearing a deeper shade of blue and gold who walked away with belief intact for at least one more week after Hayne turned the game on its head and the Eels triumphed 24-18.

The late inclusions of Will Hopoate, Tim Mannah and Ken Sio gave Parramatta a significant bonus in personnel but it was the sheer brilliance of Hayne and the controlled kicking game of halfback Chris Sandow that always made the Eels look the team more likely.

Hayne's first try was a pure solo effort in the 54th minute when he pushed off on the outside of Titans lock Greg Bird 60 metres from the tryline and then put an in-and-away on fullback Kevin Gordon to score in the south-west corner, Sandow's conversion levelling scores at 12 apiece.

Six minutes later and on the back of a penalty for a shepherd by James Roberts, the Eels went deep into Titans territory and two tackles into the set Hayne speared through on a Sandow pass to put his side in front for the first time. 

Hayne was at it again in the 69th minute when he instigated another Eels raid with a scything run from deep in his own half, with a grubber from Sandow behind the uprights being spilled by Mortimer and pounced on by Corey Norman.

Roberts added to his own personal highlights reel with a long-range try in the final minute of the game but it was too little, too late for a side that has now won just two games from 10 at home this season.

Although they were first to score in the fifth minute the Titans could credit their gritty defence for an 8-6 half-time advantage after the Eels dominated much of the territory and possession for the majority of the half.

New South Wales Origin rep Will Hopoate was a late inclusion for the Eels but it didn't take long before he was introduced to the runaway 'Coal Train' when a superb cut-out pass from makeshift five-eighth Brad Takairangi found his makeshift centre in Dave Taylor in wide open space close to the Parramatta line for an early shot across the bow.

Titans makeshift goal-kicker Kevin Gordon added the extras but the Eels soon gained the ascendancy with Sandow and Hayne challenging the Titans defence and earning numerous back-to-back sets.

In the 15th minute the Eels wasted an attacking opportunity with a fifth set in succession in the Titans' half but even though the home side's defence was holding strong, a poor kicking game at the other end kept inviting the Eels to try their hand.

Eventually Sandow found a way through in the 19th minute when he held off on a face-ball that hit an unmarked Ken Sio on the wing and the try was awarded despite the suggestion that Sandow had gone behind lead runner Tepai Moeroa in the lead-up.

In the 30th minute the Eels were at it again and when a cross-field kick from Norman was spilled by Ryan Morgan and then grounded by Kenny Edwards the video referee was called upon, confirming the on-field decision of no try.

Two minutes later Semi Radradra wasted a wonderful chance to put his side in front when he failed to grasp a cut-out pass from Edwards with only 88-kilogram Gordon between him and the tryline with possession eventually turning to give the Titans a shot to add to their tally.

Kalifa Faifai Loa looked certain to score in the 35th minute before he was held up in an extraordinary effort from Hopoate, and then two minutes before half-time Gordon gave the Titans a two-point lead with a penalty goal after a strip on Taylor just 10 metres from the Parramatta tryline.

The Titans extended their half-time advantage when half Daniel Mortimer finally got a kick to land on the spot in the 50th minute when a cross-field chip on the third tackle found an unmarked Anthony Don who grounded the ball just inside the dead-ball line.

Although the Titans' makeshift halves, centre and fullback were doing enough to keep their side in front and their defence had absorbed a mountain of pressure in the first 40 minutes, when Hayne put his foot down he proved once again that there are few who can go with him.

Parramatta Eels 24 (Jarryd Hayne 2, Ken Sio, Corey Norman tries; Chris Sandow 4 goals) def. Gold Coast Titans 18 (Dave Taylor, Anthony Don, James Roberts tries; Kevin Gordon 2, Anthony Don goals). Crowd: 14,175. Half-time: 8-6 Titans.
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