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MATCH REPORT | Eels slip clear

Parramatta responded to a hot start by the Vodafone Warriors by consigning the home side to a season-ending 18-40 loss in Sunday's 26th-round NRL encounter at Mount Smart Stadium.

After leading 12-0 inside the opening six minutes they were unable to check the Eels as they created a hat-trick for fullback Bevan French, his second and third tries early in the second half giving his side a match-winning 34-18 lead which the home side couldn't claw back.

Chastened by last week's loss to Wests Tigers, the Vodafone Warriors had started the match full of gusto and intent.

A well-constructed set finished with the play going to the left, Thomas Leuluai, in his farewell match, slipping through a lovely grubber for wing Manu Vatuvei to swoop for his 152nd career try and his sixth of the season. Issac Luke's conversion from the touchline was brilliant to make it 6-0 after only three minutes.

A second try followed two minutes later, also well put together - Luke to Jacob Lillyman, Luke doubling around on Lillyman and serving it up for Simon Mannering to snare his 57th career try. At 12-0 it was shades of the Vodafone Warriors' big night out against the Eels in 2014.

Then the jitters set in.

Tuimoala Lolohea lost possession bringing a kick back, Isaac de Gois swooping on the loose ball to cruise to the line. Evidence suggested a hand was involved and a knock-on by Clint Gutherson should have been ruled but the bunker doesn't work that way. The try was awarded.

And by the 19th minute it was 12-12 after another error. The Vodafone Warriors had a defensive scrum but the Eels put the shove on in a throwback to what the Vodafone Warriors did to them for a Sam Tomkins try in the corresponding match in 2014. At the back of the scrum the ball squirted out of Luke's grasp and de Gois had a second try in a blink.

It was advantage Parramatta when the prolific Semi Radradra had a try in the 27th minute - not converted - but the Vodafone Warriors were back level when Luke skipped out and put Mannering through a big hole for his second try of the night. Luke's conversion was again outstanding to give his side an 18-16 lead after 32 minutes.

No sooner did they have the lead than they had conceded it again when the Eels went left, created space easily for Radradra and he put French over for his first, a try Michael Gordon converted for a 22-18 halftime lead.

The damning statistic at the break was the completions, the Vodafone Warriors going at just 56 per cent courtesy of seven errors while the Eels were completing 82 per cent of their sets. 

Within five minutes of the second half starting the Vodafone Warriors were under the hammer as French struck twice to complete a hat-trick to take the Eels 34-18 clear.

Vatuvei drove at the line for what was awarded as a try on the field but was then negated by the bunker when it was found the ball had been planted just short of the line.

Thereafter the Eels were calling the tune, building and sustaining pressure and eating up the clock while the Vodafone Warriors couldn't rediscover the fluency they'd shown in the opening minutes.

Try as they did they couldn't add to their 18 first half points. Their luck was summed up when Vatuvei made a clean break upfield, found Nathaniel Roache in support and beat the defence - including French - to go over between the posts. The bunker was brought into the equation again, though, and Roache was ruled to be in an offside position, the try rubbed out.

Parramatta's response was to cash in on the Vodafone Warriors' misfortune by laying on a try for left centre Michael Jennings with Radradra converting from wide out.

At the end of the match the club acknowledged departing players Henare Wells, Shaun Lane, Jonathan Wright, John Palavi, Ben Henry, Sione Lousi, Thomas Leuluai and Ali Lauitiiti. Henry and Lauitiiti are both retiring.

Also acknowledged were the already-departed Konrad Hurrell, Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Jeff Robson.

MATCH DETAILS

Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

Vodafone Warriors 18 (Simon Mannering 2, Manu Vatuvei tries; Issac Luke 3 conversions).

Parramatta Eels 40 (Bevan French 3, Isaac de Gois 2, Semi Radradra, Michael Jennings tries; Michael Gordon 6 conversions).

Halftime: 22-18 Eels.

Referees: Adam Gee and Gavin Reynolds.

Crowd: 11,129.

Vodafone Warriors | Tuimoala Lolohea; Ken Maumalo, Jonathan Wright, David Fusitu'a, Manu Vatuvei; Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson; Jacob Lillyman,Issac Luke, Albert Vete; Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman (c); Simon Mannering. Interchange: Sam Lisone, Ben Matulino, Bunty Afoa, Nathaniel Roache.