New Eels fire against underwhelming Warriors
A blistering performance from Fijian flyer Semi Radradra and a stunning NRL debut from back-rower Manu Ma'u were the headlines from a dominant Parramatta 36-16 win over a disappointing Warriors side at Pirtek Stadium.
Radradra was a massive handful all night and earned himself a hat-trick of tries with a series of storming runs, and also formal a lethal left-edge combination with Ma'u, whose aggressive wide runs saw him cause the Warriors right edge no end of headaches.
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There were also highly promising club debuts from hooker Nathan Peats, pivot Corey Norman and centre Will Hopoate, while Jarryd Hayne was everywhere in a comprehensive Eels win and halfback Luke Kelly justified his inclusion ahead of the much-maligned Chris Sandow.
Radradra's fellow winger Vai Toutai also bagged a hat-trick as he was the beneficiary of some great service from Hopoate and Hayne.
The night was punctuated with big hits and controversy, with the only things running hotter than Parramatta's right edge attack being the referees' whistles and the video ref's replay monitor as seemingly every potential try was sent upstairs for replays.
Leading 14-4 heading into the break the Eels gave themselves some more work to do when a swinging arm from Peni Terepo on Carlos Tuimavave, in the midst of scoring a try in the shadows of halftime, left Terepo on report and the Warriors with an 8-point try.
It meant the visitors went to the break down just 14-12 and well in it after being bossed for much of the opening 40.
Attacking duo Shaun Johnson and high profile recruit Sam Tomkins failed to fire in anything like the way they did at the Auckland Nines or in a big trial win over Brisbane, although Tomkins showed several great touches to put Glen Fisiiahi over for the side's first try, as well as Tuimavave.
But the Eels came out firing after the break and if it wasn't for a stack of missed conversions from Corey Norman (two from five) and Joe Paulo (one from two) the game could have been out of the New Zealanders' reach much earlier.
Radradra continued his strong form from the Auckland Nines, scoring one first half try himself when fending off several Warriors' defenders, and later sending Hayne over when he again refused to be tackled. But for a lack of polish the Eels could have been up by more at halftime with a couple of passes finding touch rather than Radradra's chest.
Hopoate also enjoyed a promising debut in blue and gold, throwing the last pass for two of Toutai's tries, and also running 70 metres after cleaning up a grubber near his own line.
Parramatta 36 (Radradra 3, Toutai 3, Hayne tries; Norman 2, Paulo 2 goals) def New Zealand Warriors 16 (Fisiiahi, Tuimavave, Vatuvei tries; Johnson 2 goals). Crowd 14,397.