The Warriors recent strong sequence has come to an end, with a 24-22 loss to Parramatta which was again overshadowed by a controversial performance by the referees.
It was a gripping match – one of the best of the season – and the Eels did well to come back from an 18-12 halftime deficit. However a number of match-turning calls in the final 10 minutes, including a dubious forward pass call, and an overall 9-2 penalty count in favour of the Eels took the shine off what was an otherwise thrilling game.
The NRL's head office is probably already composing their apology script, while Stephen Kearney must wonder when things will turn in a season already marred by some erroneous calls.
The Eels played the perfect game – at least according to the officials – as they only infringed once after the 10th minute, which was a bizarre read given the tight contest.
Nothing went the Warriors way; a blatant Eels' dropped ball in the 75th minute was ruled a knock back, and worse came two minutes later, with a try ruled out for a forward pass after a brilliant Roger Tuivasa-Sheck break, when it looked line ball at best.
It's a performance where the Warriors won't have too many regrets, as they emptied the tank completely.
They lost the initiative in the second half, but that was mainly due to the weight of possession.
Ken Maumalo and Tuivasa-Sheck both ran for more than 200 metres, while Chanel Harris-Tavita was impressive in the circumstances.
In a brand new stadium, this was an old fashioned battle. It was end to end stuff and the first 15 minutes produced four tries, while the second half felt like finals level intensity.
Both teams enjoyed the spring-like conditions; the Warriors thriving with an afternoon kickoff. It was just the third time this season they have played with the sun on their backs.
Bankwest is an intimidating venue; Parramatta has always been known for their parochial, hostile crowd, and the steeply banked grandstands just adds to the challenge, and had seen the Eels win five of six games at the ground this season.
The officials seemed to feel the heat; after getting the first penalty in the 10th minute, the Warriors didn't receive another one until the final minute, with the home side enjoying nine straight.
They may have been merited, but it was an unprecedented sequence which helped the Eels momentum, and the referees missed a blatant strip on Gerard Beale in the 68th minute, which was a match turning call in the circumstances.
The Warriors made the perfect start, with Maumalo crossing in the corner following an Issac Luke 40/20 kick. But the Eels were quick to respond; Maiko Sivo left three defenders for dead in a brilliant angled run from deep inside his own territory, setting up Brad Taikairangi.
The home side extended their lead three minutes later, with Ethan Parry crossing in the corner off a Clint Gutherson cut-out ball.
Luke, who had a strong game, scored a trademark try from dummy half, though the referees missed an apparent knock on in the lead up.
The Warriors had the momentum – helped by the impact of Bunty Afoa – and were rewarded with Beale's try, thanks to the vision of Tuivasa-Sheck, who threw a lovely no look long ball from dummy half.
Gutherson was held up under the posts by a wonderful Jazz Tevaga effort just before halftime, but the Eels tied up the scores early in the second half through Sivo, though it was courtesy of a fortunate deflection.
The Warriors hardly saw any possession in the third quarter, and were punished for a poor fifth tackle option when they did, with the Eels going 80 metres to score, with Gutherson finishing off a Mitchell Moses break
The visitors responded from the kickoff, courtesy of an Agnatius Paasi strip then an audacious Peta Hiku flick pass to set up Maumalo for his second try.
But the Warriors still trailed by two points, and the Eels hung on, but they were lucky.
Warriors 22 (K Maumalo 2, I Luke, G Beale tries; I Luke 3 cons)
Eels 24 (B Takairangi, E Perry, M Sivo, C Gutherson tries; M Moses 3 cons, pen)