Jarryd Hayne enjoyed taking on his former Gold Coast teammates for the first time since moving south as he scored a try on the left edge and then set up another on the right to help Parramatta to 28-12 win over the Titans at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
The lead had already exchanged hands twice when Hayne displayed some brute strength to plant the ball through the legs of three Titans defenders in the 27th minute. Two minutes later he ran across the field to chime into the backline and put Bevan French over in the right corner.
Hayne now sits on 109 tries for Parramatta, or one short of premiership-winning five-eighth Brett Kenny.
His defence was on song as well, wrapping up Kevin Proctor in a ball-and-all tackle five metres out early in the second half. But it is Hayne's finesse in the points-scoring department that helped the Eels post four first-half tries to take a 22-8 lead into the sheds, which ended up being too big a gap to breach.
It was Corey Norman's 74th minute try which sealed the win. And it was lock Nathan Brown's heroics in the middle – over 220 metres and 20 hit-ups – that also helped grab the just the fifth win of the 2018 Telstra Premiership season for Brad Arthur's men.
But that's now two wins from Parramatta's last three games to put an exclamation mark on the back end of the year.
They also survived prop Tim Mannah being sent to the sin-bin in the 67th minute by not letting any tries in. However Phillip Sami and Ryan James both crossed for the Titans before the final passes were ruled forward.
The Titans have been able to win away at some very parochial venues in Sydney – beating the Bulldogs at Belmore and the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
Maybe the wide open spaces of ANZ Stadium, with a small crowd on hand, didn't stir the competitive juices enough. On paper playing a team four spots lower than them on the NRL ladder would give the Titans favouritism.
And while newly re-signed winger Anthony Don scored a brace, including a 90-metre intercept try in the 53rd minute that got the Titans to within 10 points (22-12), the Titans did not remain threatening enough for most of the match. They made 14 errors and conceded nine penalties, which didn't help.
Then again they had some bad luck. Michael Gordon, Jai Arrow and Konrad Hurrell were either held up over the line, or lost control of the ball right on it.
Match: Eels v Titans
Round 21 -
Venue: Stadium Australia, Sydney
The Eels' first points came with co-captain Mannah scoring his maiden try of the season – and only the sixth of his 221-game career, showing it is something worth celebrating.
In fact it had been 31 games since his last four-pointer. But it put the Eels up 6-0 after just six minutes and the Titans were looking lethargic.
But then the Gold Coast's two top try scorers – wingers Don and Sami – awakened. Don went in over in the north-east corner of ANZ Stadium in the 18th minute and Sami followed up on the left edge four minutes later. Both men have now scored 25 tries between them this year.
Just when the Eels looked like slipping away once more in a game, they rallied and posted three more tries – four in total for the opening half.
In the second half the points came slower for the Eels. But they hung on throughout the game to put a little more ride back in the Parramatta jumper.
News & Notes: Jaeman Salmon made his NRL debut for Parramatta… Eels back-rower Tepai Moeroa left the field in the 30th minute for HIA tests but returned in the second half… Titans interchange hooker Mitch Rein dislocated a finger in the 51st minute but it was popped back in by trainer on the field…Titans forward Moeaki Fotuaika sent to the sin-bin in the 80th minute... The Titans are home to Penrith next weekend, while the Eels face the Dragons at ANZ Stadium…Crowd: 6,158.