Eels hand Kearney ideal farewell present
A spirited Parramatta have handed outgoing coach Stephen Kearney the best farewell present he could have hoped for with an upset 16-10 NRL win over Melbourne at Parramatta Stadium.
In Kearney’s final game as Eels coach after he stepped down from the role midweek, the last placed Eels’ enthusiasm was too much for the Storm who had led the competition coming into round 20.
However the three tries to two win was soured by another injury to fullback Jarryd Hayne, who was a late inclusion in the Eels side before being driven off in a medicab in the 73rd minute with a leg injury after falling awkwardly in a tackle.
Parramatta led 10-0 after 22 minutes in a strong opening period but, after that, the errors and ill discipline that have been a part of their play for much of the season began to creep back in and the Storm kept within reach throughout the game.
Hayne had a hand in both of the Eels’ first-half tries, throwing the last pass for Ken Sio’s eighth-minute four-pointer and grubbering through for Ben Smith’s benefit-of-the-doubt touchdown in the 21st minute which was converted by veteran Luke Burt.
Despite enjoying the better of field position, an out-of-sorts Melbourne didn’t cross until the final minute of the first half when five-eighth Rory Kostjasyn reached out to score and captain Cameron Smith converted for the halftime score of 10-6.
With rumours of Ricky Stuart’s signing as new Eels coach sweeping through the Parramatta Stadium crowd, the second half was a dour affair until Parramatta captain Nathan Hindmarsh deservedly crashed over from a Chris Sandow offload in the 71st minute.
Burt converted for Parramatta to lead 16-6.
Ryan Hoffman scored for the Storm with two minutes left for the fulltime score of 16-10.
The win, just Parramatta’s fourth this year, lifted Kearney’s record with the Eels over his two seasons at the club to 10 wins from 42 games.© AAP 2013