Parramatta have put themselves on the cusp of the top eight after a scintillating attacking display out-pointing the Cronulla Sharks 42-24 in front of 12,541 fans at Parramatta Stadium.
The Eels have been the story of season 2014 thus far - the wooden spooners of last year after a third of the season are on ten points, only four points adrift of their season tally in 2013. The resurgence has been led by Chris Sandow who finished last year in reserve grade is now on par with Jarryd Hayne in importance for the Parramatta side.
Sandow stamped his authority over the contest with a fourteen point haul that included a try and five conversions. He also produced five try-assists and kicked a 40/20 but quoting statistic misses the main component of Sandow's game tonight, his composure in his kicking game and tackling - at one point he took down a forward with a lovely legs tackle.
This Parramatta side is full of players who are enjoying a renaissance including NSW Blues hopeful Jarryd Hayne who helped to send Semi Radradra in for the opening try - the winger himself scoring his sixteenth try in as many appearances. Hayne will be duking it out with Dragons fullback Dugan for the Blues custodian role.
Cronulla weren't going away quietly though, as it was a carbon copy of the Eels try was reproduced to send Feki across in the corner. They added a slice of luck when Wade Graham flicked a kick up to himself to plant the ball down. The Sharks weathered the early storm to lead 12-4 or so they thought.
Enter Jarryd Hayne. The fullback started and finished a movement that involved Willie Tonga down the left side, as he weaved in and out of the Sharks defense like a cross stitch to put himself on the board. Hayne repeated the long range effort in the second to seal the game for the Eels after he streaked away from an errant Ayshford pass.
Hayne took a backseat to the scintillating Sandow show for most of the first half though - the halfback produced five minutes of magic after it reached the half hour, slicing a kick enough to fool Michael Gordon and plant it down. He followed it up with a 40/20 and a cut-out to Ken Sio to give the Eels a 22-12 lead at oranges.
The attacking show continued well into the second half as the teams traded tries throughout the whole half. William Hopoate had his strong effort in the 50th minute effort cancelled out by a determined run from Paul Gallen to pop up a ball for De Gois to score.
Sharks had the momentum until once again an errant pass found it's way into Parramatta hands, as Willie Tonga turned back the clock to his first stint with the Eels in his runaway effort. It took a well worked effort from Robson and Gordon to send the latter across to reduce it to ten point deficit outstanding from half-time.
Sandow finished off his night with one final try-assist. He was rocketed through a hole from a Joseph Paulo pass to be wrapped up by Beau Ryan ten from the line. Later in the set, he produced a cross-field kick to give Sio his double and see ya later for the Sharks.
Cronulla will reclaim the unwanted wooden spoon position on the NRL ladder atfter their 42-24 loss to Parramatta with injury concerns hanging over representative forward Andrew Fifita.
Parramatta meanwhile host St George Illawarra Saturday afternoon in a contest that will see if St George can recover from the thrashing they were dealt by Canterbury.