Late drama as Eels snap NRLW drought

The Eels have finally snapped their winless start to the NRLW season with a thrilling 16-12 win over the Cowboys who stormed home to almost steal another late victory.

Last year’s grand finalists entered the round having scored the fewest points while they’d also conceded the most, but they looked a class above the NRLW newcomers as they snapped a six-game losing streak going back to the 2022 decider.

It’s been a horror start to the year for Parramatta with injuries to key players hurting a squad that had already been ripped apart by rival clubs, while a lengthy suspension to star forward Kennedy Cherrington hasn’t helped their cause.

But there were positive signs on Saturday with halfback Rachael Pearson kicking them to victory as winger Kim Hunt bounced back from two nervy errors early on to break the game open with a try either side of half-time via her captain’s boot.

Pearson showed why Dean Widders was so keen to bring her across from the Dragons, with her right boot proving the difference with two goals, including a late penalty after the siren which sparked emotional scenes of relief.

“You’ve seen it since she’s been back in the team (after her calf injury) that our performances have lifted every week and we’ve gotten so much better,” Widders said.

“That’s why we got her to the club and that’s what we wanted from her, and today she showed her qualities.”


They’ve shown plenty of promise in some of their games this season, but the Cowboys looked out of their depth in this one with the visitors failing to break the line until the 60th minute.

Things could have been different had China Polata not been denied an early try for obstruction, but that was offset by a Zali Fay four-pointer for Parramatta that was called back for a forward pass.

The NRLW newcomers have had their defensive issues all year but it’s their attack that must be frustrating their coach given they looked so threatening in the final few minutes when they scored twice in quick succession to set up a grandstand finish.

Debutant Libby Surha scored their first try but then came off with a shoulder concern to continue their rotten luck with injuries.

“We had enough chances early on to post some points, but we didn’t. There’s no need to panic,” coach Ben Jeffries said, who was clearly frustrated with the lopsided penalty count against his side.

“Our attention to detail (wasn’t good enough). We had a really good week at training so to not come away with the two points is disappointing.”

Originally published as Drought over: Eels survive late scare to snap losing streak in style

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