A scintillating display from five-eighth Dylan Brown helped Parramatta beat Canberra 28-20 at GIO Stadium on Sunday night.
Brown’s flawless display saw him finish with 198 yards, three line breaks and two tries, the second of which effectively froze the game with 14 minutes remaining.
There were just two second-half tries and the 21-year-old had his mitts all over the place, first breaking the line for Canberra local Bailey Simonsson to score in the corner and put his side ahead 22 -20.
But they were home when Brown crossed for his second, benefiting from a huge line break from Shaun Lane after their defense absorbed a lot of the Raiders.
Eels coach Brad Arthur acknowledged the youngster’s brilliant outing was exactly what he was capable of.
“He’s Dyl, he’s a competitor, he competes and fights for everything, he’s a badass,” he told reporters.
“Strength is his running game and when our team builds momentum he can win at the back…he can’t do that unless the forwards roll up their sleeves.”
Asked how he felt about his generally inconsistent team winning back-to-back games for the first time since the fifth inning, Arthur said he was just impressed that they withstood the Raiders’ barrage and didn’t only conceded two points in the second half. .
“I’m not worried about winning two games in a row, I’m more worried about our defense in the second half… (it was) excellent,” he said.
“We were brave on our try line, I don’t think we had any football on our side of the pitch… defensively the desperation was exceptional.”
The win keeps the Eels firmly in the NRL top four, moving to 8-4 to keep the campaign level with third-place North Queensland.
Canberra had shown themselves ready for the fight and led 18-16, with two tries for Seb Kris and a clever half-dive from captain Elliott Whithead putting them ahead.
Kris’ second was particularly fortuitous, with Eels full-back Clint Gutherson simply offering the Raiders the lead by inexcusably dropping a Jack Wighton bomb for Kris to collect.
Canberra had made the most of limited opportunities earlier, leading despite missing 25 tackles to Parramatta’s nine.
Isaiah Papali’i continued his solid form with 143m, while Junior Paulo (142m) and Ryan Matterson (155m) also stayed hot.
The defeat ended Canberra’s three game winning streak, and they will face another stern test next weekend with the Sydney Roosters heading to the city.
But the fact his side stayed strong and took him to one of the NRL’s true contenders encouraged Canberra manager Ricky Stuart that his side were on the right track.
“As disappointed as we are to lose, it was a good game of football that went from start to finish and every time they come forward with that type of effort we continue to develop the team that we want to achieve,” he told reporters. .
“A few line breaks here and there in the second half transformed it…we’re showing we can match it with them and we’re certainly not intimidated by any team.
“If we can keep some combinations now…we keep those combinations and get some cohesion, we will naturally continue to improve as a football team.”
It was another banner afternoon for the Raiders props, with Josh Papali’i and Joe Tapine combining for 384m and eight offloads.