Last year's runners-up Parramatta have made it five wins on the trot with a comprehensive 48-20 victory over the Dolphins at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday.
Sitting 14th after 11 rounds with a 4-7 record the Eels have rediscovered the form that carried them all the way to the 2022 decider.
On a glorious afternoon at Sunshine Coast Stadium it was the Dolphins striking first in the fourth minute when debutant Brayden McGrady displayed neat footwork to stand up Will Penisini and plant the ball down for a 4-0 lead.
The Eels hit back in the seventh minute when Andrew Davey powered into a hole after taking a short ball from fellow back-rower J'maine Hopgood.
Former Panther Hopgood then had a four-pointer of his own when he powered past Isaiya Katoa and Felise Kaufusi to make it 12-4 with Mitch Moses' conversion.
Too good from Hopgood
The Eels stretched their lead in the 21st minute when centre Will Penisini showed great strength to beat three defenders to score wide out before Clint Gutherson grabbed his 14th try of the season after great lead-up work by Moses, Bryce Cartwright and Penisini.
Parramatta went out to a commanding 30-4 lead in the 26th minute when Cartwright and Moses again combined to bust the Dolphins open and Penisini took the last pass to complete his first career double.
With seven minutes remaining in the half Bailey Simonsson got in on the act to score his eighth try of the season and the Eels led 36-4.
It's a Blue and Gold wave
Maika Sivo was denied in the 37th minute as the Dolphins scrambled in defence but the reprieve was short lived as right winger Sean Russell crossed on the stroke of half-time to give the visitors a scarcely believable 42-4 lead.
Ten minutes into the second half the Dolphins conjured a try from deep in their own territory when Jamayne Isaako put Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow into space and the Maroons flyer raced 70 metres to notch his 13th four-pointer of the season.
In the 56th minute the Dolphins had the full house at Sunshine Coast Stadium on their feet again when cult hero Valynce Te Whare crossed on the right edge to make it 42-14.
Eels skipper Gutherson then showed his strength to shrug off Sean O'Sullivan to score from close range before Tabuai-Fidow swooped on a Moses grubber and sprinted 80 metres to score his fourth double of the season.
The Dolphins showed plenty of fight to win the second half 16-6 but have now conceded 136 points in their past three matches and face a daunting task against ladder leaders Brisbane in Round 18.
Match: Dolphins v Eels
Round 17 -
Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunshine Coast
- Dolphins debutant Brayden McGrady is the nephew of former Bulldog and Magpie Ewan McGrady, who won the 1991 Rothmans Medal.
- Eels winger Maika Sivo was placed on report in the 12th minute for using a raised elbow on Jamayne Isaako as the Dolphins winger tried to make a front-on tackle.
- Halfback Mitch Moses became just the third player to score 1000 points for the Eels, joining Mick Cronin (1971 points) and Luke Burt (1793 points).
- Parramatta's tally of 42 points at the break was the most in club history in the first half of a match.
Davey draws the Eels level
- The Eels had 65 per cent of possession in the first half and completed 19 of 21 sets. They had nine line breaks to two by the Dolphins.
- Eels centre Will Penisini ran for 161 metres and had three tackle breaks to go with his two tries. His centre partner Bailey Simonsson ran for 191 metres.
- J'maine Hopgood continued his outstanding season for the Eels with 16 runs for 159 metres.
- Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow has now scored in 10 of his 13 games this season and ran for 279 metres on the day.
- Mitch Moses backed up from Origin in fine style with 192 run metres, three line breaks and eight goals from eight attempts.
Hammer turns on the jets
Plays of the Game
Parra powerhouse Will Penisini helped himself to a double in the space of five minutes in the first half as the Eels showed off all their attacking class to blow the Dolphins off the park. Penisini's first try was a solo effort, bumping off Euan Aitken and leaving Brayden McGrady and Sean O'Sullivan in his wake to cross in the corner. The 20-year-old centre then took the final pass from Mitch Moses to race away and score after a superb flick pass by Bryce Cartwright had opened up the space for the NSW halfback.
Penisini the human steam roller
What they Said
"We came here chasing three wins in 13 days and that was our priority. We've now won five in a row, we haven't done that in my time at the club. We were in a bit of hole at the start of the year in terms of results so to turn it around and win five games in a row in this competition is a good effort and it sets us up for a nice rest in the bye and then we can come back and reassess. We've got some big games coming up so I'm really proud of the boys that they didn't lose their nerve over the last 5-6 weeks and stuck to what worked for us and the style of footy we wanted to play and we've come out the other side of it." - Eels coach Brad Arthur
Eels: Round 17
"I thought we found something in the second half and it was important that we did that. I'm more than concerned about it [the Maika Sivo raised elbow]. That was weird. Everybody saw it, the referee put him on report from memory, but there was no penalty. Pleased to have Sean O'Sullivan back. He went OK but like the rest of them he was in a hole in the first half but we managed to pull ourselves out of that and that's what we've got to move on with. They reminded themselves in the second half what they have to do to play well and there was a lot of good things in the second half." - Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett
Dolphins: Round 17
The Dolphins face a huge derby showdown against the Broncos at the Gabba in Round 18. The Eels have a bye before they go in search of a sixth win on the trot when they meet the Warriors in Round 19.