Eels hold out Bulldogs to avoid NRL upset

Clint Gutherson bagged a double as Parramatta survived a scare to hold off Canterbury 18-16 and avoid the biggest upset of the NRL season so far.

After Parramatta led 18-0, the Bulldogs looked poised to come back over the top of them before the Eels held out for the final 28 minutes.

Gutherson and Mitchell Moses both starred for the Eels in an electric opening half hour, before the edge defence suddenly proved problematic.

Kieran Foran and Raymond Faitala-Mariner caused Parramatta headaches on the Eels’ left, while Jake Averillo scored Canterbury’s best try of the year.

After the Bullodgs trailed 18-6 at the break, Averillo went airborne to finish a right-edge movement to get the ball down with his body hanging over the sideline.

Moments later Canterbury were back within two points when Foran went to the line and created numbers on the left edge for Marcelo Montoya to benefit.

It was the second try Foran created in that fashion, having put Faitala-Mariner over from close distance just before the break.

Canterbury were then left to rue a missed opportunity to level the scores with 24 minutes to play, when Aiden Tolman took a quick tap from right next to the posts.

They also had cause for complaint early when their left edge was denied another try, with Faitala-Mariner called for an obstruction before Montoya crossed.

Replays showed the call could have been overturned if it was challenged, given Moses appeared to come out of the line and hit the Bulldogs second-rower.

But when it mattered most, the Eels defence held on.

Junior Paulo was brilliant for Brad Arthur, brought on to strengthen the middle as the game appeared to be slipping away.

He also put Moses over for the game’s first try, popping out a smart offload for the halfback to cross.

Parramatta’s second try came in more bizarre circumstances when Dallin Watene-Zelezniak lost his internal compass.

The Canterbury winger was penalised for playing the ball when facing the wrong way, allowing the Eels to take advantage as Michael Jennings put Gutherson over.

Gutherson’s second try was a far better worked play.

Moses was in the thick of the action for Gutherson’s second, grubbering back inside for his fullback as the Eels looked like they were going to run away with the game.

The win gives Parramatta their best start to a season through 12 rounds since 1978.

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