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NYC Eels secure maiden grand final berth

NYC Eels secure maiden grand final berth
NYC Eels players celebrate as they progressed to the 2017 Holden Cup grand final. Credit: Nathan Hopkins. Copyright: NRL Photos.

The Parramatta Eels have qualified for their first NYC grand final after they eased past local rivals Penrith 28-6 at Allianz Stadium. 

Luke Burt's side was never really challenged as they raced in 18 unasnwered points after the break to deny Penrith what would have been their third grand final appearance in as many years. 

Penrith were lucky to survive an early raid when Eels lock Ray Stone was penalised for a double movement but they wouldn't be so fortunate from the next set as fullback Anthony Layoun strolled over untouched to give Parramatta a 6-0 lead. 

Last year's beaten grand finalists weren't about to lay down and quickly hit back through skipper Wayde Egan who burrowed over for a trademark try out of dummy-half. 

Egan might be Penrith's leading try-scorer but he has nothing on Eels counterpart Greg Leleisiuao who latched onto a stunning short ball from back-rower Salesi Faingaa to score his 20th four-pointer of the season. 

The Eels were denied what would have been their third try of the afternoon when fill-in halfback Dylan Brown had his effort rubbed out for an obstruction to keep the gap at four points at half-time. 

The second stanza started just like the first half finished with Leleisiuao denied his second of the afternoon because of a forward pass but the blue and golds didn't have to wait long for their next points when John Fonua finished off a right-to-left sweep to score in the corner. 

Keen to keep the foot on the throat, Parramatta moved further in front when a Reed Mahoney 40/20 got them in good field position before Denzal Tonise did the rest from close range to make it 22-6. 

With the shackles off, Parramatta's young guns cut loose to score one of the tries of the season as a freakish offload from Noel Aukafolau and a lightning-fast bat on by Dylan Brow saw Layoun stroll over for the clincher. 

Eels 28 (Anthony Layoun 2, Greg Leleisiuao, John Fonua, Denzal Tonise tries; Dylan Brown 4 goals) def. Panthers 6 (Wayde Egan tries; Dean Blore 1 goals) at Allianz Stadium. Half-time: Eels 10-6. 

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