A hat-trick to Parramatta Eels winger, Semi Radradra, saw the home side defeat a spirited Dragons outfit 16-12.
The Eels entered the match unable to select 14 players due to injury and suspension.
Corey Norman was forced to revert to fullback whilst back-rower Cody Nelson made his Eels debut at hooker.
Parramatta coach Brad Arthur was full of praise for Nelson, with the former Titan playing the full 80 minutes.
“He [Nelson] got to dummy-half, gave good service, listened to the calls and more importantly he was everywhere in defence,” Arthur said.
The win was a tough one for the Eels. They gave up a try in the first two minutes when a chip kick from Benji Marshall was gathered by Dylan Farrell who found Euan Aitken to cross for the first four-pointer of the night.
Parramatta hit back immediately, after Leeson Ah Mau fumbled the ball off the kick-off with Semi Radradra the beneficiary of slick hands down Parramatta’s left edge.
The score stayed locked at six-all until the 32nd minute when Gareth Widdop landed a penalty goal.
The score remained 8-6 to the Dragons at half-time.
Parramatta came flying out of the blocks in the second half, with Radradra bagging his second of the night.
This time he was the beneficiary of neat work by Chris Sandow who chimed in on a backline movement to slip the rampaging winger the ball.
The Eels extended their lead just on the hour mark with Radradra rounding out his third career hat-trick.
Brad Takairangi with the assist this time after he got on the outside of his man and drew the winger in to hand Semi a clear run to the line.
The last 15 minutes though were tough fought with the Eels clinging to a 16-8 lead.
The Dragons ensured a grand stand finish when Eto Nabuli crossed out-wide, narrowing the gap to just four points.
It then appeared that Peter Mata’utia was going to steal the match for the Dragons when he charged onto the ball two metres out from the line, only for Pauli Pauli to throw an arm out and drag him down just short.
The goal line defence of the Eels earned praise from Arthur after the match.
“Our defence, our commitment, our resolve; we burnt through a couple of interchanges really quickly in the second half, and a few of the big boys were out on their feet in the second half.
“That tackle on the try-line which young Pauli Pauli was involved with was a great effort and it’s really encouraging for him,” he said.
The win moves the Eels into 13th place and just two points outside the top eight.
They have a nine day turn-around for their match on Monday-week against the Wests Tigers.