The reputation of Wests Tigers halfback Luke Brooks has continued to soar with the 19-year-old inspiring his side to a 21-18 win over Parramatta in a magnificent NRL encounter played in front of more than 50,000 fans at ANZ Stadium.
Brooks kicked a field goal two minutes from fulltime on Monday to give his side a one-point advantage before Pat Richards booted a huge penalty goal to seal the two points.
Both sides played their part in a topsy-turvy clash that ebbed one way then flowed the other as the Tigers made the Eels pay for a woeful day with the boot for Chris Sandow.
Sandow kicked one from four attempts including a miss from not far left of the posts after wing sensation Semi Radradra looked to have won the game with his 10th try of the season with four minutes remaining.
Mick Potter’s side now move to 5-2 for the season – the joint-venture’s best-ever start to a season – and they did it without injured skipper Robbie Farah and veteran Liam Fulton.
Two first-half tries from Jarryd Hayne gave the Eels an early lead, but Blake Austin’s four-pointer under the posts, converted by Richards, closed the deficit to 8-6 at the break.
Hayne was superb in the opening stanza, but early in the second half his poor offload was scooped up by Brooks and the youngster raced 80 metres to score with Richards’ conversion giving his side the lead.
But Hayne atoned for his error in the 51st minute with a brilliant chip kick that landed into the grateful arms of Ken Sio who raced over the tryline.
A Sandow 40-20 gave the Eels perfect field position in front of the Tigers posts, but the former South Sydney playmaker overplayed his hand in looking for Will Hopoate and Richards intercepted the loose pass and raced for a length-of-the-field try.
But Parramatta refused to lie down and Hopoate looked to have scored after on-field officials ruled his effort was good only for it to be over-ruled by the video referees who deemed Brooks had been obstructed by prop David Gower.
But they did get the green lights when Radradra maintained his record of scoring in every single game this year following a sweeping crossfield move.
But Sandow’s kick then sailed wide and Brooks, who has already been tagged as NSW’s future halfback, led his side to a late victory.