Parra Post Mortem: A bitter end

BY BOZZA

Previous Round

That is not how it was supposed to end.

After surviving the turmoil of the salary scandal and almost a decade in the wilderness, and winning nine from ten to earn a double chance, it felt like we were destined for something greater than a straight sets exit from the finals. After challenging the Storm in

gutted
Gutted: Two of the Eels best in 2017 console each other after the Semi Final loss to the Cowboys.

Melbourne in Week 1 a fifth Premiership looked within reach instead the 2017 Finals Series has added another heartbreaking story to the tale of woe since the 1986 Grand Final.

 

When seen with cool heads, 2017 will be a year that will be looked back upon fondly but right now it bloody hurts. The Eels 24-16 Semi Final defeat at the hands of North Queensland was a painful and bitter end to a season that as times offered so much more. Unable to retain possession of the ball, Parramatta could not compete with the ruthless efficiency of an opponent taking full advantage of a fortunate finals berth.

Committed and disciplined, the Cowboys patiently and methodically suffocated the life out of the Eels. With the Cowboys completing their sets at 100% the Eels rarely had any chances to attack their opponents line. That Parramatta entered the sheds at the half with a lead was due only to two pieces of individual brilliance from Semi Radradra and Will Smith.

 

Semi
Semi Delights: Radradra gives the Eels an early lead.

In the seventh minute a deft kick from Michael Morgan demanded a sharp take from Radradra barely a metre out from the try line. The giant winger took the ball above his head in a breath taking receive and if this is where the play had ended it would have still been spectacular. Radradra wasn’t done though and quickly broke through the Cowboys chasing line and was away on a 99 metre run to the try line. His ninth try in his last four games was yet another for one of the most sensational highlight reels of any player in NRL history. One of the most dominant wingers in the game, he will be sorely missed by the team and it’s fans as he plies his trade in French Rugby.

 

It is disappointing for Semi that we are going out on those terms,
He has been great for our Club and has worked extremely hard to get himself to the footballer that he is right now and at some stage, we would like to have him back.

Brad Arthur – Post Game

Thirty minutes into the contest and the plague of errors that would ultimately end the Eels season had displayed its first symptoms. At this stage it didn’t appear life threating as it was just a few errant passes when looking to take advantage of an attacking raid or a kick that would just roll millimetres dead. But, with the Cowboys playing near error free Football, it was the beginning of the slow and painful death by a thousand cuts.

Further clouding the critical condition the Eels season found itself in was the brilliant work by Will Smith when confronted with a Michael Morgan grubber designed to set up

Will Smith
Flying Fullback: Will Smith escapes the clutches of Jake Granville on the way to the tryline.

a try scoring opportunity for the Cowboys Lachlan Coote. Displaying incredibly quick thinking Smith, after using his thighs and chest to stop the ball, pushed team mate Kenny Edwards out of the way to ensure that the backrower would not be caught accidently off-side. Having displayed his football nous, he then showed off his turn of pace to lead the Cowboys on a merry 80 metre sprint to the try line.

 

Very disappointed we don’t go out on our terms, it would have been nice to have a strong performance in that last forty, and if we weren’t good enough then we weren’t good enough but they taught us a lesson on Semi Finals football.
They dominated field position, possession and made us pay for our lack of composure at times in the second half.

Brad Arthur – Post Game

Having been incredible front runners all year, evident in their 14-1 record when leading at half-time, the Eels 10-6 advantage at the break should have been an indicator of a positive conclusion to proceedings. Unfortunately, like last week against the Storm, it would be surrendered early in the second half and never recaptured.

We came into the break at half time, we did what we needed to do and set out to do, but in the second half we made 60-70 more tackles for the game, and that’s a lot of work in Semi Finals football.
To their credit, they played a better second half of football. All the attention to detail, they got it right and we didn’t.
Errors really hurt us. Get a good ball set and we don’t get to a kick, we just didn’t build any pressure.

Brad Arthur – Post Game

The weight of the Cowboys near perfect ball control and scoreboard pressure ultimately told on the Eels and they wilted beneath it. Worked to a standstill, the effort was evident when half chances withered without support runners. Starved of possession and worked over in defence Parramatta struggled to create any go forward with only Nathan Brown and Peni Terepo the only forwards to run for over 100 metres as opposed to the Cowboys four.

Our support was outstanding. I got a bit emotional just before kick off when the boys ran out and the noise from the crowd was excellent.
There was plenty of reasons for us there to play well and we probably feel like we disappointed and let our fans down too because they have been fantastic for them this year.
We promise them we are going to work hard throughout the pre-season and make sure we learn from it.

Brad Arthur – Post Game

It was a strong turn out from the Blue and Gold Army in response to the Eels mighty charge to this position. A parochial 41,287 in attendance in readiness to cheer the team onto a Preliminary Final position. Without question they would have left ANZ Stadium disappointed with how the night turned out but there is reason to be excited for the future. A long hard preseason awaits the team as the look to repay the faith of their fans in 2018, it is cold comfort after a sad end to a season that hit such bright heights.

It just wasn’t meant to end this way.

 

Previous Round

QUALIFYING FINAL
North Queensland 24 (Feldt, Asiata, Hess, Morgan tries; Lowe 4 goals) def
Parramatta 16 (Radradra, Smith, Jennings tries; Moses 2 goals)
Match Officials: Matt Cecchin, Ben Cummins.
Sideline Officials: Brett Suttor, Chris Butler.
Video Referee: Ashley Klein, Ben Galea.
Official Crowd: 41,287 at ANZ Stadium.

 

 

 

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