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Five of the Best: Battles with the Eels

Round 20, 2021 will mark the 150th time Eastern Suburbs and Parramatta meet since the Eels' inception into the competition all the way back in 1947 - and there have certainly been some great contests between the two clubs. 

With so many matches to pick from, we've narrowed it down to Five of the Best. 

Off to a Winning Start: Round 6, 1947

Expansion of the competition was almost immediate following the devastation of World War II, with Parramatta - along with Manly-Warringah – entering the NSWRL in 1947, and Eastern Suburbs would meet the blue and gold in the early stages of that season.

Having already defeated the other newcomers just the week before for their first win of the season, Easts continued their winning run with a 30-17 win at Cumberland Oval in Round 6.

The Tricolours gained an early lead at half-time up 16-7, and in a six tries to three encounter, ran away as Premiership-winning centre Paul Tierney (playing in the halves) and lock Jack Arnold both scored doubles.

Try-Scorer: Centre Paul Tierney (pictured here with the ball in the 1945 Grand Final) was a noted try-scorer for Easts, and bagged a double in the Club's first match against Parramatta in 1947.
Try-Scorer: Centre Paul Tierney (pictured here with the ball in the 1945 Grand Final) was a noted try-scorer for Easts, and bagged a double in the Club's first match against Parramatta in 1947.

Winger Tommy Kaine and centre Norm Rogers also found themselves on the scoresheet with three-pointers of their own, as fullback Vic Bulgin plotted six goals.

 The Wally O’Connell-led Easts side continued their winning run the following week, but this match would remain as a highlight in an otherwise forgettable year -

 

Eastern Suburbs 30 (Jack Arnold, Paul Tierney 2, Tommy Kaine, Norm Rogers tries; Vic Bulgin 6 goals) def Parramatta 17

 

Beetson’s Boys Beat Heavyweights: Round 24, 1985

The 1980s saw the Parramatta Eels become heavyweights of the competition – no less thanks to the influence of former Easts’ coach Jack Gibson – which made encounters between these sides all the more intense.

While Gibson had moved on from the Eels at this point, it was his 1974-75 Premiership-winning captain who took the helm as mentor for the Red, White and Blue, and helped to manufacture this underdog victory.

Down 14-4 at the break, Artie’s plucky Roosters rallied against a star-studded Parramatta side that included the likes of Steve Ella, Mick Cronin, Brett Kenny, Peter Sterling and Ray Price – and did so without the influence of talismanic halfback Kevin Hastings.

Rampaging centre Ron Gibbs scored a brace of tries, with winger Wayne Challis and fan favourite fullback Gary Wurth diving over to score tries for the Red, White and Blue as halves Olsen Filipaina and Laurie Spina guided the side to a 22-20 victory.

In an era where wins were hard to come by for the mighty Roosters, this one certainly stands out in one of the greatest wins of the 1980s.

 

Eastern Suburbs Roosters 22 (Rob Gibbs 2, Wayne Challis, Gary Wurth tries; Olsen Filipaina 3 goals) def Parramatta Eels 20

 

Opening the New Milennium: Round 1, 2000

With the new millennium came an excitement and buzz around the harbour city –the Olympics were set to be held for the first time in Australia since 1956 and the Roosters had rebranded to ‘Sydney’ – and eventually, they would reach their first Grand Final in over two decades.

But the journey to the 2000 decider started with a hard-fought comeback against the Parramatta Eels, with the Brad Fittler-inspired Roosters starting their campaign with a bang.

New signing Craig Fitzgibbon score the Club’s first points of the 21st century with a penalty goal after six minutes, but it would be current Roosters’ assistant coach Nathan Cayless scoring the first try of the match in controversial circumstances as the two teams clashed early.

Round 1, 2000 Flashback: Roosters vs Eels

A lost ball saw the Eels swoop to double their lead after less than a quarter of the match played, and although Fitzgibbon closed the deficit to eight with another penalty goal, their opponents struck once more with just seconds remaining to take a 16-4 lead heading into the break – despite the ball being lost on the replay.

Not to be deterred, the Tricolours charged through as a Bryan Fletcher break early in the second stanza, and a young Shannon Hegarty took a cross-field kick with aplomb to score the side’s first try.

Ten minutes later a headgear-clad David Solomona barged over to close the gap to four, and soon after Hegarty was over for the equaliser following another bust from Fletcher thanks to some Fittler magic.

Two more goals from Fitzgibbon’s boot iced the match, with the Roosters crowing 20 points to 16 to start their season. 

 

Sydney Roosters 20 (Shannon Hegarty 2, David Solomona tries; Craig Fitzgibbon 4 goals) def Parramatta Eels 16

 

Roosters Hit Eels for Six: Round 4, 2013

Coming up against former Roosters Premiership-winning coach Ricky Stuart, his former side were keen to show their Premiership credentials at the Sydney Football Stadium early in 2013 – and did so with a 50-nil thrashing.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves finished off a frantic set which saw a last-tackle kick recovered by the Roosters, before Sonny Bill Williams dived on an equally erratic piece of play.

It was three tries from three kicks as Roger Tuivasa-Sheck soared above the pack from a cross-field kick, and he dived over his second to give the Tricolours a 22-nil at the break – with all the try-scorers so far hailing from New Zealand.

Roosters v Eels Rd 4 (Highlights)

Just minutes into the second half, quick hands saw the Roosters cross again, Tuivasa-Sheck crossed for his hat-trick from a classy cut-out pass from SBW and Waerea-Hargreaves soon provided Daniel Mortimer with a try under the posts.

Daniel Tupou scored soon after before a rampaging Boyd Cordner helped his side reach the half-century with just minutes remaining as they claimed their biggest-ever win against the Eels in the Club’s history.

 

Sydney Roosters 50 (Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 3, Boyd Cordner, Michael Jennings, Daniel Mortimer, Daniel Tupou, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Sonny Bill Williams tries; James Maloney 7 goals) def Parramatta Eels 0

 

Roosters Bounce Ladder-Leading Eels: Round 6, 2020

With five wins from five games and at the top of the ladder, the Parramatta Eels were flying in the early stages of the turbulent 2020 season, but the Sydney Roosters knocked them off their perch with a hard-fought win at Bankwest Stadium in Round 6.

The sides threw early warning shots at one another in this much-anticipated clash as quick hands on the left saw Josh Morris make a break, before Eels fullback Clint Gutherson replied by recovering a chip kick and heading 50 metres downfield.

Another opportunity was lost as a Morris pass missed its target, but Easts would cross first as a Tedesco cut-out put Brett Morris over in the corner, before kicking two penalty goals to extend their lead to eight.

With minutes remaining the Eels hit back with a try of their own as the sides headed into the sheds with the Tricolours up 8-4 after a physical back and forth first half.

Brett Morris continued his spectacular form – this time in defence – with two try saving efforts early in the second half, but eventually Parramatta would take the lead as the pressure continued – though that would not last long.

Heading into the final quarter, a trademark show and go from Luke Keary saw the mercurial five-eighth put captain Boyd Cordner over for a tradesman-like try, and a six-point lead was gained with yet another penalty goal.

Highlights | Roosters v Eels

Fighting to extend their lead, Josh Morris burst through the line once again, linking up with Keary, before a sin-binning saw the Eels down a man as the Roosters extended with their fourth penalty goal of the night.

The veteran centre’s radar was on as he put Tupou over with a classy flick pass to ice the match, ending the Eels’ winning streak and taking home the two competition points in what was a memorable match.

 

Sydney Roosters 24 (Brett Morris, Boyd Cordner, Daniel Tupou tries; Kyle Flanagan 6 goals) def Parramatta Eels 10

 

 

More Five of the Best on Roosters.com.au

Five of the Best: Triumphs Over the Knights

Five of the Best: Battles Against the Bulldogs

Five of the Best: Victories Over Melbourne Storm