Round 2 NRLW 2021 (Deferred) Premiership
DRAGONS 10 Defeated Eels 0
It was another triple header in the NRLW today, this time down south in Wollongong. And once again it was the Eels drawn to play the home team in the main event.
Unfortunately for the Eels there was no thunder to be stolen this week as the home team were the ones to overcome the torrential storm and emerge victorious.
These were far from ideal conditions for rugby league. However, both teams were forced to deal with the driving rain and waterlogged field and it was the Dragons, better make that the Water Dragons, who maintained their composure and dominated field position.
And if the Eels are to be honest, they just weren’t good enough.
The Dragons won all aspects of the game, especially where it mattered most – in the ruck.
In winning the ruck time and time again, they slowed down any type of attack the Eels could muster. Even allowing for some questionable holding down and flop calls, or rather those calls that weren’t given, the visitors only need to look in the mirror to understand how the momentum, and therefore decisions, weren’t going their way.
The Dragons also dominated in tackles and on numerous occasions drove the Eels ball runners backwards. Against such defensive dominance, Parra found it extremely difficult to get the ball to their playmakers to conjure up any form of attack.
Errors are never welcome at this level, and today they were especially costly. For the Eels, they occurred at crucial times, gifting critical field position to their opponents and even the only try of the match.
It may be a bit harsh to attribute the only try to an Eels error, especially with the awful Dragons pass from dummy half that was a line ball at best, or a forward pass at worst. Nonetheless, the Dragons had been camped in the Eels quarter due to a plethora of mistakes from the Blue and Golds.
A territorial disadvantage in the horrid conditions was only going to lead to the outcome we witnessed.
The Key Numbers
Parramatta completed 21 from 34 sets, giving that awful rate of 62%. You just can’t win football games with that sort of completion rate.
The concern for coach Widders is that it’s a similar stat to last week (65%), so something is not quite right for the Eels, even allowing for the conditions.
The blame can’t be attributed to unnecessary risks with ball in hand, as the Eels kept play fairly tight, only registering 5 offloads.
The minimal second phase, and poor completion rate is also reflected in the Eels making just 2 line breaks for the match. Tiana Penitani and Nita Maynard were the only ones to find open spaces at Wollongong.
Bo Vette-Welsh was constantly looking to spark the Eels attack. She led the way with 145 running metres, closely followed by workhorse Kennedy Cherrington with a strong 121 metres.
In defence, the Eels made 268 tackles with 21 misses and 11 ineffective. This equated to a tackle efficiency of 89%.
There were no surprises that inspirational skipper Simaima Taufa led the way with 38 tackles, ably supported by Nita Maynard with 28 tackles.
Discipline continues to be a concern. Last week the Eels conceded 8 penalties and made 11 errors. This week, the Eels gave away 7 penalties and tallied 15 errors.
Even allowing for the conditions, they are making it tough for themselves with those sorts of numbers.
Without doubt, the video session for this game is going to be a bit cringeworthy. The Eels have some major kinks in their attack, and as we know, the NRLW doesn’t offer many weeks to iron them out.
On a positive note, the team were outstanding under pressure in defence. The only Dragons try was a shambles and hardly deserving of any plaudits. The home side had ample opportunities in the Eels quarter but could not get over the line.
There are some very good footballers in this Eels squad. If they can get the attack to click, matches like today will finish with a different result.
Let’s hope this happens next Sunday when the Eels play their debut home match in an NRL/NRLW double header against the Titans. The visitors will be full of confidence after disposing of the Roosters in registering their first ever victory.
Yours in Blue and Gold,