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Moses the saviour as Eels win dramatic Grand Final rematch

A Mitchell Moses golden point field goal after 81 minutes of thrilling rugby league saw the Eels to a 17-16 victory over the Panthers in a rematch of the 2022 Grand Final on Thursday night. 

The Eels had looked set to win 16-14 with seconds left, before a Junior Paulo tackle saw him binned and gave Penrith a penalty, which they kicked into touch before Nathan Cleary nailed a stunning two-point field goal from beyond 40 metres, to force golden point.

In the end it was another sin-binning, this time Penrith hooker Mitch Kenny in golden point, which set the Eels up with the winning opportunity, which Moses iced from in front of the posts. 

Earlier a try from a Penrith junior in his NRL debut looked set to prove the difference for the Eels, with interchange hooker Brendan Hands scoring, shortly before a Moses penalty gave them an eight-point advantage.

Moses wins it for the Eels

A late converted try to Zac Hosking, followed by Cleary's two-point field goal, forced extra time, but the Eels did enough to avoid starting a season 0-4 for the first time since 2018. 

While picking up their first win of the year will likely be all the Eels care about, they also ensured Ivan Cleary's 400th game as an NRL coach ended in defeat and in the process got one back on the side who broke their hearts on Grand Final day almost six months ago. 

The victory was built on a brilliant 95 percent completion rate, as Brad Arthur's men finished 41 of their 43 sets at CommBank Stadium. 

Cleary sends us to golden point

The Eels made just one error through the opening 40 minutes and should have led at the break, after scoring the opening try and kicking a penalty goal. 

Bryce Cartwright got on the end of a Dylan Brown kick 14 minutes in, with Moses converting before adding a penalty just before the half hour mark.

But with seven minutes left in the half the premiers hit go, scoring through Dylan Edwards after a nice interchange of passing through the middle, before Cleary added a penalty on the siren to even the ledger. 

A fast start to the second period saw both sides trade blows, before Hands got over and Moses kicked a penalty to restore an eight-point advantage.

But the Panthers weren't done and did well to force golden point, before Moses broke their hearts with his clutch field goal. 

Match snapshot 

  • Mitchell Moses nailed the match-winning field goal a minute into golden point, after Nathan Cleary had kicked a two-point field goal with seconds left in normal time to keep Penrith alive. 
  • In winning their third-straight game against the Panthers at CommBank Stadium, Parramatta avoided their first 0-4 start to a season since 2018. 
  • The Eels completed 41 of 43 sets for a final completion rate of 95 percent.
  • J'maine Hopgood and Soni Luke both left the field for head injury assessments in the 52nd minute, with Luke failing his and Hopgood passing. 
  • Parramatta prop Junior Paulo was binned with seconds to go in normal time, before Mitch Kenny joined him in golden point. 

Paulo binned late

  • A short drop out from the Eels on 12 minutes not only killed off a Panthers' raid, but set Parra up with possession to score the opening try through Bryce Cartwright, who latched onto a kick and slid over.

Cartwright slides all the way

  • Nathan Cleary bounced a short dropout into touch 13 before the half, but it failed to go 10 metres and gave the Eels an easy two points from the ensuing penalty. 
  • But as the Eels looked set to take an 8-0 lead into the break, Isaah Yeo broke free and offloaded to Scott Sorensen, who in turn found a racing Dylan Edwards who couldn't be stopped, with Nathan Cleary converting. 
  • Cleary then added a penalty on half-time to tie scores at 8-8. 
  • Brendan Hands broke the deadlock on 56 minutes, with Moses converting and then adding a penalty eight minutes later, after he was hit late while kicking. 
  • Zac Hosking's try nine minutes from time, followed by a Cleary conversion, set up a thrilling finish, which only got better after Cleary hit his two-point field goal attempt.

Here come the premiers

  • On their first defensive set of golden point, Penrith had Mitch Kenny binned for a high tackle, and seconds later Moses kicked the winner. 

Play of the game 

A player on debut, scoring a try minutes after being subbed on, against none other than his junior club. It was a moment Brendan Hands will never forget, with his four-pointer coming after nice build up work from Matt Doorey and Will Penisini, who offloaded late after breaking the initial contact from Panthers defenders. 

Hands scores on debut

What they said 

"I really liked the way we fought back from eight points down, twice, and it was a real hard slog both times. Disappointing to have the loss, but I think we will get a lot out of that game. A couple of big penalties in big moments tonight [cost us], which is a shame too." – Panthers coach Ivan Cleary. 

Panthers: Round 4

"[The performance was] more Parramatta like. It was tough, for both teams it was a fair game of footy. I think there was 85 sets in the game and only 10 lost plays, it was just end to end. High quality game, could have went either way." – Eels coach Brad Arthur. 

Eels: Round 4

What's next 

Another Thursday night match awaits the Eels in Round 5, this time away on the road to the Roosters at Allianz Stadium. The Panthers meanwhile head to Canberra to face the Raiders, with hopes Liam Martin (hamstring) will be available again. 

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.