Parramatta 26 Dragons 22
Best in show: Fuifui Moimoi takes the ball into contact. Photo: Getty Images
Well, it was never going to be conventional, was it?
When people talk of a Fuifui Moimoi double, it is usually after someone is hit by him. But against fellow strugglers St George Illawarra, Moimoi scored a double – to triple his try tally for the season.
Semi Radradra shows a clean pair of heels.
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Moimoi(2), Radradra(2), Sio||Tries||5||Tries||4||Players||Rein, Frizell, Vidot, Stockwell|
|Players||Roberts 1/1 (100%), Paulo 2/4 (50%)||Conversions||3||Conversions||3||Players||Stanley 3/4 (75%)|
|Players||Penalty goals||0||Penalty goals||0||Players|
|Players||Field goals||0||Field goals||0||Players|
There will be few highlights for the Eels out of this season, but they have at least added one.
Any win is a good win for a team who could count their victories on one hand.
So where does that leave the defeated Dragons? Coach Steve Price will face some scrutiny. Since he extended his contract with the club until the end of next season – with an option for 2015 – at half-time during the Anzac Day clash with Sydney Roosters, the Dragons have won just three matches.
Parramatta Eels v St George Illawarra Dragons
Mitch Rein of the Dragons dives over to score a try. Photo: Getty
A loss to the wooden spooners, who had lost 12 of their past 13 games, will not help his cause. The way they lost will not help, either.
The Dragons have now lost nine of their past 10 matches, including the last six, and face the Warriors in the final round on Saturday.
Defeat on Monday night came after they had shot out to an early 12-0 lead. The Dragons' first try was an ominous one, a relatively simple burrow over from dummy half by hooker Mitch Rein.
Lock Jack de Belin was held up six minutes later, but the Eels' resilience on that occasion mattered little. Second-rower Tyson Frizell scored soon after, busting through a poor attempted tackle by halfback Luke Kelly.
Moimoi started the fightback, leaping to take a kick from Kelly. Winger Semi Radradra scored from hooker Matt Keating's smart ball, and then, with three minutes left in the half, Moimoi scored in more conventional fashion for him – if that is possible for a player who had previously scored one try this season – barging over with brute strength.
The Dragons started the second half as they did the first. They hit the Eels hard and early, scoring through winger Daniel Vidot, even though the final pass from centre Chase Stanley appeared forward.
But the Eels were the strongest on the night.
The pick of the night's highlights would not have been out of place among any this season. After 53 minutes, the much-maligned Eels five-eighth, Ben Roberts, received the ball on the short side, put on some cute footwork and sent a superb flick to Radradra, who stepped inside fullback Jason Nightingale midway through a 50-metre dash to score.
Then, on the hour, the Eels kicked away again; Kelly made up for his early defensive miss to hand Ken Sio – switched to fullback in the absence of the injured Jarryd Hayne – a try.
By that stage the Dragons trailed by 10 points, and appeared out of the contest. They hardly looked like scoring.
However, with six minutes remaining, they sprang to life. Prop Jack Stockwell barged over, and the Eels, who were willing the game to be over, all of a sudden were nervous and tightening up. They held on, winning the match with the same scoreline they had beaten Wests Tigers in round 22 – and the Eels were again the best of the worst on the night.
PARRAMATTA 26 (F Moimoi 2 S Radradra 2 K Sio tries J Paulo 2 B Roberts goals) bt ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 22 (T Frizell M Rein J Stockwell D Vidot tries C Stanley 3 goals) at Parramatta Stadium. Referee: Gavin Morris, Brett Suttor. Crowd: 8,910.