Two sides, both round one victors, went head-to-head at the Bankwest Stadium in Sydney as the Paramatta Eels took on the Melbourne Storm for the honour of sitting at the top of the table, at least until tomorrow's fixtures are played.
The Storm came into the game as bookies favourites having won the last encounter between the two sides in October, and on the back of four straight competition wins. But the Eels will have been remembering the encounter in August with more fond memories, a game which saw them score fourteen unanswered points in shutting out the eventual Grand Final winners.
The heavens had opened pre-kick off, the conditions levelling the odds.
Conditions were dreadful as the two sides took to the field and it took its toll on the early exchanges as neither side could find a way through tough defences. The closest either side came was an effort by Asofa-Solomona which Paramatta somehow managed to defend, holding the big forward up over the line.
The deadlock was finally broken on twenty-one as Maika Sivo leapt to take a Dylan Brown kick to the corner and evade the attempted tackle from Cameron Munster. Mitchell Moses converted superbly from the left touchline for a 6-0 lead.
Melbourne were within centimetres of scoring on thirty-seven, but Clinton Gutherson saved the day by somehow dislodging the ball on the line. The ball went back to the Storm and play continued with Reimis Smith managing to skip out of a tackle as the ball was moved to the right, sliding over the line for a Storm try. Ryan Papenhuysen smashed his kick between the uprights to level the scores, there was nothing to choose between the two sides either on the pitch or on the scoreboard.
It had been a superb first half with both sides completing a ridiculous percentage of their sets in atrocious conditions.
Six minutes into the second half Ryan Matterson was smashed to the ground, assisted by the elbow of Felise Kaufusi, the second rower being put on report by referee Ashley Klein as the Eels player was helped from the field.
Conditions were becoming biblical as the half wore on.
On sixty-seven the Eels were finally back in front as Junior Paulo smashed his way through the line off a short and delayed pass to regain the lead. Moses added the conversion for a 12-6 lead, but the errors were creeping in from both sides as the conditions took their toll.
On seventy-three Melbourne again levelled the scores with Justin Olam collecting a ricocheted Papenhuyzen grubber to dive over and ground in a single movement. The Storm full-back added the conversion for 12-12, dragging it in from outside the right hand upright. There were five minutes left on the clock and still nothing to choose between the sides.
Paramatta snatched the win with three minutes left to play when Sivo collected a high Mitch Moses bomb, outjumping George Jennings and running for the line to ground under the pressure of two tacklers. Moses pushed his kick wide of the upright with ninety second on the clock.
A fantastic night of top-drawer entertainment from two electric sides who will both be in the mix at the end of the season. The win was thanks to two brilliant tries from Sivo, taking impossible high kicks to get over. The Eels go top of the pile, at least overnight.
Paramatta Eels: Gutherson, Sivo (2T), Opacic, Niukore, Ferguson, Brown D, Moses (2G), Campbell-Gillard, Mahoney, Paulo (T), Lane, Matterson, Brown N. Subs: Kaufusi, Papali’I, Smith, Hipgrave.
Melbourne Storm: Papenhuyzen (2G), Jennings, Smith R (T), Olam (T), Addo-Carr, Munster, Hughes, Bromwich J, Smith B, Welch, Kaufusi, Bromwich K, Asofa-Solomona. Subs: Lewis, Kamikamica, Eisenhuth, Smoothy.
Referee: Ashley Klein.