Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

NRL: Resurgent Penrith compound Parramatta woes

Eels 10
Panthers 17

The misery continues for Parramatta, while the Penrith evolution under Ivan Cleary rolls on.

The Eels rebounded from a 50 point hiding earlier this season to win the following week but there was no such salvation this time, after last Monday's 50-10 hiding at Manly.

Meanwhile, the Panthers consolidated their position in the top eight with a gritty victory, their seventh in their past 10 games.

Former coach Stephen Kearney was seen as the main architect of Parramatta's woes in 2011 and 2012 but little has improved since his departure. Coming into this match, the Eels were on a six-game losing streak, conceding at least 30 points in all of them. They are rebuilding and have used eight debutants this season, the most of any NRL side, but coach Ricky Stuart has a huge task.

Big money halfback Chris Sandow was dropped for this match, with Luke Kelly coming in but star fullback Jarryd Hayne was the critical absence; since 2009, the blue and golds have won just three of 22 matches when he didn't play.

Parramatta's start, like many this season, was poor. They came up with errors and inaccurate kicks and Penrith soon profited. David Simmons crossed in the corner after clever work from Kiwis centre Dean Whare. The Eels were undone again when Kevin Kingston beat three soft tackles to score in the 23rd minute. Penrith were impeccable for the first half-hour, completing all 14 sets and looking strong on defence.

The Eels gradually came back into the game through improved effort - and a slice of luck. First, winger Brayden Wiliame dived over after a flick pass was deflected into his path, then Luke Kelly plucked a intercept to run 50m and score near the posts right on halftime. Simmons crossed for his second try, thanks to a pinpoint Walsh chip, in the 49th minute. The rest of the second half was a grind, but a late drop goal from Walsh, the best player on the night, sealed the victory.

Panthers 17 (D. Simmons 2, K. Kingston tries; L. Walsh 2 goals, dropped goal) Eels 10 (B. Wiliame, L. Kelly tries; J. Mullaney goal).

- Herald on Sunday

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