This is not how the 2018 season was meant to go.
A fortnight ago the Eels kicked off the season with high expectations as to what they could achieve. After Saturday nights dreary 14-4 defeat at the hands of the Sharks at ANZ Stadium they remain anchored to the bottom of the table with questions being asked on where their first win might come.
We got our defence back. We wanted to make a statement with our defence because it wasn’t good enough last week. It was soft. I thought defensively they tried hard, the systems were good. A couple of penalties probably hurt us.
Brad Arthur – Post Game
Conceding a lazy eight tries less than they did the week before, it is hard not to agree that the Eels defence was much improved on the efforts at Lottoland. In fact it could almost be argued, given the disparity in possession and penalties in the first half, that to concede just one try was a remarkable defensive effort.
Despite there being high hopes for a spirited contest, given both teams entered the match winless in 2018, the match never hit any great heights. Unable to hold onto the ball and on the wrong end of the referee’s whistle, the Eels spent much of the match in defence. Sapped of energy by the extra tackling requirements, time in possession was spent recovering rather than asking questions of the Sharks defensive line.
While only having the ball 40% of the time is a mitigating factor in the Eels lethargic attack it doesn’t completely absolve halves Corey Norman and Mitchell Moses for a number of poor last play options. Especially with the game still nominally in the balance late in the contest, some better choices at the end of sets could have put the team in position for an unlikely victory.
That the Eels were still a punchers chance with 10 minutes to play was a testament to the outstanding efforts of a number of the team’s most tireless workers. Daniel Alvaro tackled himself to a standstill, making 52 in a desperate effort to keep the game alive. The ever reliable Nathan Brown was his usual hard running self, breaking the 200m mark once again for metres carried.
With Jarryd Hayne in the team, headlines are bound to follow, unfortunately after this match they were in relation to an apparent hip flexor injury. With the 2-time Dally M Medallist set for a return to his favoured position at fullback, Eels fans were left disappointed when he was forced to leave the field in the first half. With Kane Evans also unable to take part in the second half, there was just 15 fit players left to try and claim the clubs first win of the season. Well 14 and half when you consider that Bevan French left the Stadium at games end in a sling for his injured shoulder.
Just got to keep fighting hard
Brad Arthur – Post Game
While it doesn’t get any easier for the team with this seasons Wests Tigers up next on Easter Monday, there were enough signs against the Sharks to suggest that the corner could soon turn for the Eels. Despite the fact that they now find themselves 0-3 on the bottom of the ladder, they are still the same team that was considered a premiership contender a fortnight ago. The NRL season is a marathon, not a sprint, there is still plenty of time left for the season to be put on track. With Easter Weekend celebrated for history’s greatest comeback, what better time for the Eels to begin the long road back.
Parramatta 4 (Auva’a try) def by
Cronulla 14 (Townsend try, Townsend 5 goals)
Match Officials: Ben Cummins, Chris Sutton.
Official Crowd: 12,553 at ANZ Stadium.