By STEVE MASCORD
PARRAMATTA halfback Chris Sandow is starting to payback some of his $550,000 price-tag after slotting the winner in a late late show at Penrith on Saturday night at Jane McGrath Foundation Stadium.
With 34 seconds to go in golden point extra time, and after the Eels came back from 18-6 down with 12 minutes to go in normal time, Sandow was successful with his third field-goal attempt of the period to give the Eels their third win of the season, 19-18.
Eels coach Stephen Kearney said: “He hits them in training from 55 metres out and trust me they all go sailing through the posts. I was getting a little frustrated.”
Sandow said of his first two attempts: “I hit them wrong.” The former Souths halfback’s winner was the sixth field-goal attempt in the match.
While Sandow won the plaudits with the field goal, it was skipper Nathan Hindmarsh – with a hand in two tries late – that carried the Eels back into the match. In addition to his contributions to the tries, which included a last pass to Luke Burt, Hindmarsh ran for 181 metres in 20 runs while making 40 tackles.
Kearney said of the inspirational skipper: “I thought he had an enormous game tonight. It was a real skipper’s role both in defence and with the footy. I thought he was tremendous.”
Kearney also indicated Hindmarsh may be excused from training again for part of the upcoming week after the tactic of resting him last week paid dividends.
Kearney said the addition of five-eighth Luke Kelly, a recent signing from the Melbourne Storm, was also influential. “Luke gives us some direction and talk,” he said. “All week at training he’s trained like that…We had a pretty specific structure that we wanted to stick to and I thought Luke did that fairly well tonight.”
Captain Hindmarsh admitted the side didn’t play well for periods of the encounter. “They scored there in the second half and then Chrissy (Sandow) didn’t kick off well and Luke Lewis has busted through they’ve scored,” Hindmarsh said.
“That gave me the shits. So it’s little things like that that are costing us games … disappointed there but I was very pleased with the way the boys defended in the first half. We gave away alot of penalties. We defended alot of back to back sets. In previous weeks we have crumbled in those situations. So I was very happy with the boys in that area of the game”
After field goal misses for Sandow and Penrith’s Harry Siejka in the final moments of regulation time the match went to the extra period.
In the first five minutes of extra time, a Cheyse Blair grubber nearly led to the Eels win. Teammate Ken Sio raced through but grounded the ball on the dead-ball line after Panthers fullback Lachlan Coote elected to shepherd it out.
Penrith then had a chance for a penalty when it appeared a Panthers attacker was tackled without the ball 10 metres out from the line. The officials ruled otherwise and Penrith turned it over.
A Jarryd Hayne field goal attempt from 55 metres out fell well short.
Starting the second period, Sandow missed his second attempt at field goal. In the final two minutes of the match Coote also missed one before Sandow nailed his winner from 30 metres out.
Kearney and Hindmarsh both agree Sio should have been awarded the try in the first period of gold point.
Hindmarsh said: “The team thought it was a try. If anything we thought ‘benefit of the doubt’ would come up.” Kearney went on to question the play surrounding the Sio no try in the first half. Referencing the interference from Coote’s legs, Kearney noted “four weeks ago that was a try.”
Penrith highlighted the incident when a Panthers player appeared to be taken out when the side was on attack in the first period of extra time.
Skipper Kevin Kingston said he thought it should have been a penalty before coach Ivan Cleary added: “It’s pretty obvious. It’s funny the only things they (the referees) actually adjudicated on that whole golden point, the only decision they gave was a forward pass against us which I don’t think was forward.
:Apart from that there was a knock on in there from Jarryd Hayne which for some reason (they didn’t call.) The referees just stopped. Doesn’t make you feel any better.”
The grand final coach of last year with the Warriors said of the close loss: “you can add that to a pretty long list this year. Four or five games where we’ve lead with ten to go and tonight up by 12 with 12 to go. Disappointing.”
To start the game, NSW lock Luke Lewis loomed up on the left edge of the ruck and was the recipient of a short ball form Siejka to open the scoring. After checking the ball’s grounding video referee Phil Cooley confirmed the try and moments later it was a 6-0 lead after a Luke Walsh conversion.
Panthers custodian Coote who was set to spend last weekend in the NSW Cup before a late call-up was at his best in the 26th minute in denying the Eels a try.
Sent to the video referee again, a no-try was ruled after Coote dislodged the ball from the grasp of Sio as the Eels winger attempted to ground it in the right corner. Sio wouldn’t have got the opportunity for a try had it not been for the miraculous pass he received from Blair who flicked the ball behind himself despite the attention of two Panthers defenders pushing him into touch.
The Eels had three chances to score in the final five minutes of the half but were only able to capitalise on one. First Sandow dropped what looked like a forward pass from Ben Smith before a Sandow cut-out pass was spilled by Sio.
Both those chances were close to the line but it was a play from inside their own half that finally got the blue and golds on the board.
Two minutes from the break a pass from Joseph Paulo was able to set up a Ryan Morgan try. From 60 metres out Morgan was outside his defender and beat Walsh, Coote and Geoff Daniela to race away for the four-pointer. Luke Burt ensured the scores where 6-6.
Penrith skipped out to a 16-6 with two tries in three minutes to Etu Uaisele then David Simmons.
Parramatta was hard on attack after got a goal-line drop offering them a repeat set before a Kelly pass was tipped by Hayne before Uaisele raced 80 metres to scored for his fourth try against Parramatta this season.
Two minutes later Simmons, who was a match-day replacement for Josh Mansour, scored with the last pass provided by Michael Jennings. Lewis set up the play after a big run down the left-hand side earlier in the set.
The Eels gave themselves a chance in the final twelve minutes when skipper Nathan Hindmarsh found Luke Burt with an inside ball to put the retiring winger into room on the left edge before he beat Coote to race in under the crossbar.
It was Hindmarsh again two minutes later, setting up the try that sent that match into golden point. The veteran forward found Fuifui Moi Moi before the barn-storming bench forward dummied then threw a pass to Hayne for the fullback to race the final 20 metres score in the same spot as Burt seven minutes earlier and send the match into the additional period.
On the injury front Eels hooker Matthew Keating sustained a concussion with 15 minutes to go and Panthers halfback Walsh left the field 12 minutes into the second half with a medial ligament issue in his elbow.
PARRAMATTA 19 (L Burt J Hayne R Morgan tries L Burt 3 goals C Sandow field goal) bt PENRITH 18 (L Lewis D Simmons E Uaisele tries B Austin 2 L Walsh goals) in golden-point extra time at Centrebet Stadium. Referee: J Maxwell/A Devcich. Crowd: 15,275.