Eels season finished by Tigers

It’s all over for the Eels as they get closely beaten 20-18 by the Wests Tigers

The Eels had just gone down 20-18 in a thriller to Wests Tigers at Parramatta Stadium, and Burt was blaming himself. With just seconds left on the clock and Parramatta charging home with their finals hopes on the line, Burt – the NRL’s most accurate kicker with an 85 per cent strike rate – lined up a penalty goal attempt from 25 metres out and just off centre that would have forced extra time. He missed.

“He had a chance to level the scores for us but unfortunately missed,” said Eels co-captain Nathan Hindmarsh, obviously feeling for his likeable teammate.

“The worst thing is Burty would kick them blindfolded any other day.”

This day however he didn’t, and now the Eels have been left to contemplate what might have been. “He’s taken it pretty hard. It can be a cruel game,” Eels coach Daniel Anderson said. “It’s going to be bitter for him, that memory.

“Maybe we should have taken opportunities before that. It’s difficult to put the blame at one person’s feet for a game like that.”

It was amazing that the Eels were even in a position to contemplate extra time given the fact they showed little life in falling behind 20-6 with little more than ten minutes remaining. But in an effort which summed up their season, the Eels left their run far too late.

In reality, the Tigers could had have this one wrapped up at halftime given their dominance over the opening 40 minutes, the 10-6 lead at the break scarcely indicative of their performance.

Twice the visitors were denied by the video referee – once when Robbie Farah fluffed a simple put down from a gorgeous Benji Marshall grubber – while Chris Lawrence twice found the sideline with a pass instead of unmarked winger Lote Tuqiri five metres out. Lawrence and Tuqiri eventually combined to send the latter over, and when Beau Ryan scored his first of the afternoon, it appeared the scoreboard was finally catching up to the Tigers’ level of play. It almost seemed unjust when Joel Reddy and Krisnan Inu swivelled out of tackles as the Kiwi winger cut the deficit to four at halftime, but Ryan’s second and another to Andrew Fifita after a debatable tackle restart had the Tigers almost home.

But as they have made a habit of doing over the past two seasons, the Eels left it late to find something, Justin Horo and Anthony Mitchell scoring within three minutes of each other. Twice the Eels went close without luck until the referee spotted a strip by an unidentified Tigers player on Feleti Mateo to hand Burt a lifeline he would ultimately waste.

“I think there was about five hands on the ball – I had no idea,” Mateo said when asked who had committed the strip.

“It just came out and I was scared they were going to say I knocked it on.” Tigers coach Tim Sheens took the win with relief, but admitted the better side had emerged victorious.

“We got a little bit of luck with him missing the goal but I thought overall we were the better side,” Sheens said.

Eels – Tries
Krisnan Inu 38m
Justin Horo 69m
Anthony Mitchell 72m

Tigers – Tries
Chris Lawrence 20m
Beau Ryan 31m
Beau Ryan 47m
Andrew Fifita 62m

Eels – Goals
Luke Burt 39m
Luke Burt 69m
Luke Burt 73m

Tigers – Goals
Benji Marshall 21m
Benji Marshall 63m
Round 24
W L D B +/- Pts
1 Dragons 15 7 0 2 197 34
2 Tigers 14 8 0 2 25 32
3 Panters 13 9 0 2 112 30
4 Titans 13 8 0 2 24 30
5 Sea Eagles 12 10 0 2 57 28
6 Roosters 12 9 0 2 32 28
7 Warriors 12 10 0 2 7 28
8 Broncos 11 11 0 2 7 26
9 Raiders 11 11 0 2 -40 26
10 Rabbitohs 10 12 0 2 23 24
11 Knights 10 12 0 2 -32 24
12 Eels 10 12 0 2 -56 24
13 Bulldogs 8 14 0 2 -45 20
14 Sharks 6 16 0 2 -231 16
15 Cowboys 5 17 0 2 -188 14

* Melbourne Storm have been stripped of all premiership points for the 2010 season