Last year’s wooden-spooners continue to surprise with shock win on the road.
Parramatta has finally ended its two-year away drought with a gripping 25-18 NRL victory over the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.
Chris Sandow and Jarryd Hayne led the resurgent Eels home in a quality second-half where the lead changed four times before Sandow sealed the result with a 40m field goal.
It had been 21 matches since Parramatta – wooden-spooners in the past two seasons – enjoyed its last success on the road, also against Brisbane way back in 2012.
But it showed the poise and professionalism that has been lacking by twice reigning in the Broncos.
It was hooker Nathan Peats who snuck past Ben Barba – in another indifferent display at full-back – from dummy half with 11 minutes left to take control after a controversial cross-kick try to the home side.
Parramatta’s win sees it draw level with joint leaders Brisbane on a congested table while the Broncos could be most pleased with the return of co-captain Justin Hodges from his achilles injury.
After more than seven months out of the game, Hodges immediately showed how important he is to Brisbane.
Benched for kick-off, he was forced to watch his side waste the lion’s share of possession for the first 20 minutes.
The frustrations continued when he entered the fray as Barba ignored an unmarked Daniel Vidot on the left wing and instead kicked dead.
Minutes later Corey Norman, Kenny Edwards and Sandow combined for Will Hopoate to open the scoring.
Then big Semi Radrada handled twice and swatted away Barba in a scintillating 85m try for his eighth four-pointer of the season and a 10-0 lead.
But Hodges single-handedly gave the Broncos a much-needed injection 35 seconds before half-time with a signature dummy half run.
He created something from nothing by fending off both markers – Radradra and Mitch Allgood and also evaded two more defenders before sending Dale Copley down the sideline to score.
A 10-6 deficit flattered the home side but the late try turned the momentum and Ben Hunt continued Brisbane’s resurgence with a solo 40m try – dummying his way to the line.
The lead changed again when Hayne made Josh Hoffman pay for a bad defensive read off a scrum but the Eels failed to hold it for long as the video referee awarded the contentious try to Josh McGuire.