The Gold Coast Titans under-20s have missed a chance to jump ahead the Eels on the ladder, going down 35-22 in a tight encounter at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday night.
The first score of the day came after a clumsy Titans penalty piggy-backed the Eels down the field after starting the set on their own 10-metre-line. Some strong carries from the Parramatta forwards created space for their playmakers, with a nice ball from five-eighth Dylan Izzard putting winger Abbas Miski over in just the fourth minute.
Just three minutes later the Eels were on the scoreboard again. A fifth tackle bomb towards Titans winger Zac Spring resulted in a mistimed jump with Miski swooping on the loose bouncing ball to waltz in under the posts and score his second try with just ten minutes gone, for the Eels to lead 10-0.
After defending for the opening phase of the game, the Titans completed a clinical set, with a neat Brayden Torpy kick into touch giving the Eels the ball on their 10-metre-line. The subsequent set resulted in a Parramatta error gifting Gold Coast the ball with halfback Brayden Torpy sending a nice ball out wide to Brian Kelly who drew in a defender before passing to Zac Spring to score in the corner and make up for his earlier error.
Each side exchanged the ball for the next ten minutes, when Eels fullback Bevan French knocked on a kick just outside his own line. The Titans looked dangerous with each carry from the ensuing set, with big forward Oshae Tuiasau crashing over the line despite the attention from three defenders to level scores at 10-10 after 20 minutes.
Eels fullback French made up for his earlier error on the stroke of half-time, diving full length to gather and score an in-goal grubber which was seemingly out of bounds. The miraculous try was converted as the half-time siren sounded, giving the Eels a 16-10 lead at the main break.
Any momentum the Eels took into half-time didn’t seem to affect the Titans, with the Gold Coast side scoring through Anthony Colman just three minutes into the second half. Some neat lead up play led to Colman splitting a gap to race in under the posts and set up an easy conversion for Torpy.
Ten minutes later, a bobbling grubber from Parramatta half Zach Dockar-Clay resulted in a crucial fumble, gifted the Eels an easy four points under the posts and a six-point lead 13 minutes into the second half.
Under-20s Maroons forward Tuiasau hit back for the Titans in a replica of his first half try, using his huge frame to bust over the line despite defenders hanging all over him to even scores at 22-all with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Not long after, Eels fullback French was again in the thick of the action, pulling off another miraculous play. The dynamic number one contesting a high ball only to catch the ricochet and pass to a teammate while lying on his back. The try gave the Eels a six-point buffer and set up an exciting finish.
Despite possession in their attacking half, the Titans were unable to mount a comeback, the Eels defence holding strong in the final stages. Eels halfback Dockar-Clay slotting a field goal with just two minutes left after the Eels had gained good field position.
A desperate Titans outfit then regathered the kick-off and got the ball down to their 10-metre line, only for an attempted grubber kick to bounce off the leg of an Eels player and land in the lap of Dockar-Clay who passed to French to score a length of the field try and cap off an impressive game.
The Titans under-20s travel to Melbourne to take on the Melbourne Storm next Sunday.
Parramatta Eels 35 (Miski 2, 2 French Gafa, Stowers, Dockar-Clay 5 goals, field goal) def. Gold Coast Titans 22 (Tuiasau 2, Colman, Spring, Torpy 3 goals)