Gutsy Battle of West fight

WITHOUT their full strength on the field, the Parramatta Eels have gone down 26-18 to the Panthers despite a gutsy effort in the Battle of the West.

The Eels’ left edge was decimated by injury, as they lost both Bailey Simonsson and Kelma Tuilagi in the early stages of either half.
Despite the setbacks, the Eels led at half-time and remained in the contest until the end.
Eels’ tries came via Joey Lussick, Shaun Lane and J’maine Hopgood, with Dylan Brown assisting the latter two.
Attacking the goal-line, Lussick jumped out of dummy half and pounced on the Panthers’ defence after just three minutes. Mitchell Moses stepped up to the kicking tee and put the Eels ahead 6-0.
The Panthers responded and took the lead in the 15th minute before a try from nowhere brought Parramatta back to life.
Clint Gutherson took over goal-kicking duties and levelled the scores after 23 minutes.
The Panthers promptly hit back, and were soon leading by four.
The home side looked set to take their advantage into the sheds, before a Parramatta sucker punch handed the Eels a half-time lead.
The Eels looked to carry their momentum into the second half, but another cruel injury proved costly as Kelma Tuilagi injured his arm and was forced off.
Tuilagi’s withdrawal forced a second change at left centre, as Bryce Cartwright slotted into the backline.
The hosts extended their advantage moments later, as Parra searched valiantly for a try but the match petered out in the final 20 minutes and the Eels fell.
The Eels will look to return to winning ways when they host the Manly Sea Eagles at CommBank Stadium from 4.05pm on Sunday.