It wasn't the result Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart wanted, but it did show the Green Machine wasn't far off where they need to be.
If they can keep their spine together to build their combinations - although they'll lose five-eighth Jack Wighton to State of Origin camp - then they're heading in the right direction.
A Dylan Brown-powered Parramatta were just too good as they ended the Raiders' three-game winning streak, with a former Raider also contributing to their downfall.
Off the back of Brown's brilliance, the Eels ran out 28-20 victors at Canberra Stadium on Sunday.
Brown scored two tries, as did former Raiders winger Bailey Simonsson, as he ran for 198 metres and made three line breaks.
"You're playing against a team that's up there around the top of the main section of the teams and we showed we could match it with them," Stuart said.
"I certainly wouldn't be intimidated by any team. If we can hold onto some combinations and not have any more injuries, and keep Jack and Jamal [Fogarty] together, and keep the hookers playing the way they are.
"We've got Xavier [Savage] at the back learning how to play No.1 and he did a wonderful job tonight.
"He's going to develop into a very good young player. If we keep those combinations and get some cohesion we'll naturally keep improving as a football team."
Raiders centre Sebastian Kris continued his good try scoring form, also crossing for a brace.
Canberra halfback Fogarty was solid on his club debut, with one of his kicks leading to a try, while also landing four from four from the kicking tee.
"I thought he was very comfortable. He fitted in very well, had some good neat kicks," Stuart said.
"He'd be disappointed with the line break that was made on his inside shoulder [by Shaun Lane that led to Brown's second try].
"I was very happy to have Jamal back tonight and his game will just keep growing now."
Wighton didn't do his State of Origin hopes any harm with a solid display, including setting one up with a kick and another with his contest of a Fogarty bomb.
Josh Papalii will be named for Queensland on Monday morning after he ran for 150 metres, while his front-row partner Joe Tapine amassed 234m in a big effort in a losing side.
Fogarty's first bomb might've been a bit heavy, with a little bit of rust on it, but his radar was back in for his second.
It forced Simonsson into an aerial contest with Wighton, with the ball spilling free for Kris to score his third try in three games.
Eels centre Will Penisini scored a first-half try, but a head knock ruled him out of the game.
Brown showed his power to crash through a Papalii tackle for a nice solo try - although he was helped by a head clash that forced Papalii off the ground for a head injury assessment, which he passed.
Some Elliott Whitehead quick thinking had him diving over out of dummy half for a try.
But it was mostly about Brown, who proved the difference in the second half when the game was on the line - guiding the visitors to a come-from-behind win after trailing 18-16 at half-time.
"That's Dyl. He's a competitor - he competes and scraps and fights for everything," Eels coach Brad Arthur said.
"He's a tough kid. His strength is his running game and when our team provides momentum he can carry off the back of it.
"He can't do that unless our forwards are rolling their sleeves up and our back five were really good out of the backfield tonight."
AT A GLANCE
PARRAMATTA EELS 28 (Bailey Simonsson 2, Dylan Brown 2, Will Penisini tries; Mitchell Moses 4 goals) bt CANBERRA RAIDERS 20 (Sebastian Kris 2, Elliott Whitehead tries; Jamal Fogarty 4 goals) at Canberra Stadium. Referee: Todd Smith. Crowd: 16,244.
Covering the Raiders, Cavalry, cycling and racing, plus everything else that involves sport in the ACT, for The Canberra Times. Basically I love sport and watching it is a full-time job. Email: email@example.com
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