NRL 2021: NZ Warriors' brave second half not enough as Parramatta Eels take Magic Round victory

NZ Warriors have slipped to a 34-18 defeat to Parramatta Eels at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium, despite a spirited second-half from the Kiwi side.

After conceding 24 unanswered points in the opening 20 minutes, the Warriors showed their character to keep in the match, and had the Eels sweating by scoring twice in the second half to ask questions of Parramatta.

But 18-year-old debutant Jakob Arthur ultimately came up with the decisive play, quashing the Warriors' hopes of a comeback win to give the Eels their ninth win of the season - and condemn the Warriors to their sixth defeat in 2021.

Following last week's 38-32 loss to Manly Sea Eagles, the Warriors looked to return to winning ways in their see-saw season, but were up against a flying Parramatta side - with the Eels second only to Penrith Panthers on the NRL competition ladder.

And the Eels took five minutes to show their class, as lock Nathan Brown was sent over to score by halfback Mitchell Moses, opening the scoring in the first half.

Winger Maika Sivo added to the Eels' lead, giving Warriors opposite Rocco Berry no chance as he steamrolled over to score in the corner for his 10th try of the season.

Prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard was the next to cross over for the Eels, holding off three Warriors defenders on the tryline, spinning to place the ball and leave the Kiwi side 18-0 down inside the opening 20 minutes.

Campbell-Gillard doubled his tally three minutes later, finishing after a break on the Eels' left edge. 

The Warriors did manage to strike back before halftime, after Josh Curran was on hand after Kodi Nikorima batted back a bomb from Chanel Harris-Tavita.

The inclusion of the electric Reece Walsh began to change the Warriors' fortunes, even though the Eels controlled the game with a 24-6 halftime lead.

Despite the disparity in the scores though, the Warriors did enough to outscore the Eels in the second half, but leaving their run too late after such a poor start to the match.

The Eels carried on their assault into the second half, as Parramatta scored when the Warriors couldn't hold on to a high kick from debutant Arthur - son of coach Brad Arthur - that Waqa Blake set back for Ryan Matterson to grab the first points after the break.

The Warriors' cause was hampered by the loss of winger Rocco Berry to a head knock, failing an HIA after halftime, before try scorer Josh Curran was forced from the field with an arm injury.

Tries to Ben Murdoch-Masila and Walsh saw the Warriors begin to claw back the deficit to 10 points, and threaten to set up a thrilling finish between the two sides.

Arthur sealed the win with a try on his NRL debut, putting the finishing touches on the Eels' victory, stretching out to ground the ball for his maiden first-grade points - and drawing celebrations from his father in the coaches box.

The victory means Parramatta go level with Penrith Panthers at the top of the competition ladder, albeit having played one game more, and behind on points differential.

The Warriors meanwhile drop down to 10th place, level with Canberra Raiders on eight points, but behind on differential.

The Kiwi side have a short turnaround, facing off against Wests Tigers on Friday night in Gosford.

Eels - Brown, Sivo, (2) Campbell-Gillard, Matterson, Arthur tries; Moses 4 conversions, Gutherson conversion

Warriors - Curran, Murdoch-Masila, Walsh tries; Nikorima 3 conversions