Parramatta scored a crucial 32-12 win in the final game of Round 26 to leapfrog the Gold Coast and consign John Cartwright’s men to the wooden spoon.
Determined to end their disappointing 2011 season on a high, the Eels shot out of the blocks with winger Ken Sio scoring on debut after just eight minutes following a brilliant backline move on the right edge.
Three minutes later they were in again, this time going the length of the field after a Preston Campbell grubber ricocheted into the arms of Jarryd Hayne who raced down the left touchline.
And it was a point a minute in the 17th minute when Hayne’s grubber ricocheted off the uprights and the ball was shuffled out to Ryan Morgan to cross. Morgan added a second after 30 minutes to top off a memorable half of football for Parramatta who went to the break leading 22-0.
The second half was only four minutes old when Ben Smith added to Parramatta’s tally – the veteran back-rower swooping on a cross-field chip from Hayne to score. Smith then became the second Eels player to make it a double for the night when he scored a near identical try from another Hayne kick to push the score out to 32-0 with 30 minutes remaining.
At that stage it looked like becoming a cricket score, but to the Titans’ credit they managed to hold the Eels out for the rest of the game and scored two consolation tries themselves – the first after Ben Ridge sliced through to send Luke O’Dwyer over and the second a scrappy effort from David Mead as the fulltime siren sounded.
The Titans were always going to struggle, given their poor 59 per cent completion rate, with Parramatta completing at a far superior 83 per cent. As a consequence the Eels ran for 1757 metres to the Gold Coast’s 1365 and made just 294 tackles to the home side’s 412.
Hayne was typically brilliant for Parramatta, running for 295 metres and producing five try assists. Anthony Laffranchi made 51 tackles in his final game for the Titans.