Round 19 Drink Of Choice – Chivas Regal 12YO
Thursday night certainly lived up to its billing as the ‘spoonbowl’ as the 16th placed Parramatta Eels triumphed over the 15th placed Canterbury Bulldogs with a sloppy and hugely frustrating 14-8 victory. The win, just Parramatta’s fourth of the season, lifts them into an equal share of last place alongside the aforementioned Bulldogs and the North Queensland Cowboys.
As vapid and ugly as the win comes across initially, it is still a significant milestone for Parramatta as they finally managed to do enough to overcome their 2018 self-destructive tendencies. In light of that it is worth spending more time celebrating the good to come out of the win…because unfortunately the same issues we have discussed ad nauseam still plague our team.
Brown answers the call
The spillover of the post-match media duties revealed that Brad Arthur had challenged his lock forward Nathan Brown during the week to lead the way for the Eels after the latter came to his coach to plead his case to play for the full eighty minutes against the Bulldogs. Brown, who has produced a mixed bag in recent weeks, responded in emphatic fashion as he belted out 200m from 22 carries and knocked off 37 tackles with nary a single one missed over the course of a full game.
Although the Eels failed to contain the Dogs through the middle for large passages of play, Brown certainly did his part to will Parramatta home with a vintage performance.
Left, right, out(standing)
The other backrower to make a real splash on Thursday night was Tepai Moeroa. Recalled into the starting team for before kickoff at the expense of Brad Takairangi, Moeroa made the most of his first starting gig since Round 13 to churn out 128m from 11 runs, 38 tackles (1 missed) and most importantly a huge linebreak and try assist to set up Kaysa Pritchard.
It was a throwback game for the young backrower who burst into first grade in 2014 on the back of some power running and clever attacking lines. While he recorded the sole linebreak during his a latter stint on the left edge, Moeroa was a constant threat earlier in the game on the right and was barely contained a number of times by shoe-string efforts from the Canterbury defence.
Moeroa has struggled to regularly produce such attacking showcases despite obviously having the talent for it and unlocking that potential is surely one of the priorities as Parramatta look to salvage as much as they can from 2018.
High rate of interest on ‘Cash’ reserves
While cash reserves may attract a low rate of interest in the financial sector, Reed ‘Cash’ Mahoney is quickly proving to be one of the most interesting stories for the Eels this year. The young rake earned thirty minutes of playing time from the bench on Thursday night and his presence was immediately felt as the service from the ruck became clean and crisp while both Mitchell Moses and Corey Norman enjoyed much better timings and spacings for their back line shifts.
It also helps that the modestly built dummy-half rattled off a flawless 23 tackles in his time on the field!
Mahoney still has much growing to do as he acclimatises to first grade, which will hopefully be facilitated over the remaining five games of the season. As someone that has seen him dominate in the lower grade over the past two seasons, we are yet to see his full arsenal of attacking skills from dummy half in the NRL but the same token he also needs to make certain mistakes by employing those skills in order to learn his limits.
#9 has been a huge issue for the Eels, both for 2018 and really dating back to the halcyon days of Mark Riddell and P.J Marsh. In Reed Mahoney, the Eels potentially have a genuine play-making dummy half, which could be a huge boon moving forwards. Just like with Tepai before, finding out if he can be that guy is one of the most important questions to answer in the next five games.
Peni’s extension one for the ladies (and fellas)
Much like the Eels’ acquisition of Shaun Lane, the two year extension of Peni Terepo still lies in the bounds of the unofficial after it was revealed by the media prior to the game on Thursday. Still, I gladly welcome the unofficial retention for one of Parramatta’s most impactful players in this horror year.
Terepo certainly played better than his numbers suggested on Thursday with his box-score reading 10 runs for 77m and 25 tackles (1 missed). He was a difficult target for the Dogs to bring down as he produced 5 tackle breaks but more than that he played with obvious energy from the bench and is starting to master that prying, angled run across the middle.
The inconsistency of the forward pack this year is going to result in a pretty significant make-over heading into next year but Terepo is one of the few players (like Daniel Alvaro) that has enhanced his stock this year.
The Final Word
As I alluded to in the beginning, the same issues that have held the Eels back throughout 2018 were once more on show against the Bulldogs. This time, and certainly aided by the calibre of their opposition, they were able to hold their nerve and secure a rare victory.
Mitchell Moses and Corey Norman are still struggling for week-to-week inconsistency and one (but preferably both) really needs to figure their shit out as we look to close out 2018 in a positive fashion. The pangs of PTSD crept into my game-day experience as those awful midfiield bombs made a return on Thursday but thankfully our halves did recall that kicking for the corners is a valid strategy – something that helped stymie any potential bleeding of points in the final exchanges of the game.
I am sure the media will trot out the line about playing for pride and looking to be the spoilers in the coming weeks but the truth is that the Eels have plenty to play for – both as a team and especially individually. A host of players, both young and old, are looking to showcase that they belong in the starting team next year. The team itself still have to undergo a healing process to drive the footballing yips out and resoundingly positive finish to the year could be just the tonic.
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