Finally. Parramatta’s season from hell is over. And they finished in style, thumping the New Zealand Warriors 40-18.
A hat-trick to rookie fullback Bevan French showed Eels fans they have reason to hope going into the 2017 season as their side played with heart, pace and skill on a wet Auckland afternoon.
French wasn’t the only Eel to bag multiple tries, hooker Isaac de Gois also got in on the act, scoring a double of his own.
Semi Radradra, Michael Jennings and French were simply too much for the Warriors to contain, they broke the defensive line almost at will as the Warriors compounded their problems with 15 errors to Parramatta’s 7.
But it didn’t look like this would be the result early on.
The Warriors started hot and were out to a 12-0 lead after just seven minutes thanks to tries to Manu Vatuvei and Simon Mannering.
An Eels knock-on in a dangerous position gave departing Warriors five-eighth Thomas Leuluai the opportunity to slip a grubber into the corner, with which Vatuvei made no mistake.
The side then extended their lead when stalwart Mannering got on the end of an Issac Luke inside ball to crash over near the posts.
The Warriors were also dominating ball possession. Then they lapsed and handling errors, a hallmark of the their unsuccessful finals tilt, ushered the Eels back into the contest.
Makeshift fullback Tuimoala Lolohea knocked on in front of his tryline in the 17th minute, letting De Gois in to score before the Eels hooker grabbed a farcical second.
Luke dropped the ball attempting to collect his own 20th minute scrum feed, handing De Gois four points on a plate.
Parramatta then took the lead in the 28th minute when Radradra eased into the corner, before Mannering claimed the lead back for the Warriors after running into a defensive hole.
Eels fullback French capitalised on a Radradra gallop to reclaim the lead once again in a half that ended 22-18.
The second stanza started poorly for the Warriors, with French crossing for two simple tries.
The rookie fullback strolled through a hole from dummy half for his second, before grabbing his third when centre David Fusitu’a spilled a potential intercept in the 46th minute.
A late disallowed try to rookie Nathaniel Roache, followed by a Michael Jennings try for the Eels made the damp afternoon truly miserable for the Warriors, who failed to make the finals for a fifth consecutive year.