The Parramatta Eels have left the Tigers beaten on and off the field, the Eels not only running up a big score against Wests but forcing even more of their players onto hospital beds as the Tigers injury crisis worsened.
The Eels finally woke from their 2008 slumber to put it all together against the Wests Tigers and blow the score out to 44-6.
Finally showing the skill and class that had them positioned as NRL premiership contenders before the year started, the Eels ran in 8 touchdowns to 1 to totally blow away a Tigers side never in the contest.
Phil Gould and the Channel 9 commentary team called it boys against men with the Tigers, without 4 first choice props, struggled to physically match the Parramatta juggernaut which has now finally broken into the NRL Top 8 for the first time since round 1, 2008.
To make matters worse up front, Wests Tigers lost new prop Danny Galea early on to a snapped Achilles tendon which left them with 16 fit players and without a specialist prop.
Parramatta launched out of the blocks well, with Luke Burt bringing in a deft Brett Finch kick to make it 6-0 after 11 minutes – Burt gathering the kick with little room to work in and grounding it centimeters from the dead ball line, Burt’s try coming just minutes after the Eels fullback had saved a try down the other end with a tackle on Beau Ryan. Burt and Ryan clashing heads and the Eels fullback was somehow able to gain his composure and score the try, Burt lucky to escape the blood bin prior to the try – claret dripping from his mouth after the Ryan collision.
A 50/50 strip call in Taulima Tautai’s favour gave the Eels more possession and Josh Cordoba pushed through some feeble defence to score, and already it was looking like a long afternoon for the home side. Cordoba making the Tigers’ Corey Payne look very average as he brushed through to score from 7m out.
As the Eels forwards rolled through the middle, laying the perfect platform for their outside men – the class of newly found pivot Feleti Mateo came into it’s own, with the stylish five-eighth using the perfect combination of his bigger frame, silky skills and simply breathtaking offloads to cut the Wests Tigers to bits mid field. Tigers coach Tim Sheens alerting his players to the danger of Mateo pre-game, but stopping the dynamic half is something altogether different.
Even when something went their way, like when Tautai knocked on in front of his own sticks, the Tigers found a way to blow their chances with Benji Marshall spilling the ball from the ensuing scrum and the Tigers immediately forced on to the back foot.
Two more tries before the break and it was game over at 22-0 to the visitors, Chris Lawrence’s try six minutes after the restart following a nice piece of Marshall deception merely acting as a break in the Eels avalanche.
Krisnan Inu stepped past Mathew Head six minutes later to extinguish any hope of a Tigers resurgence before Nathan Hindmarsh scored a double in the closing stages thanks to some beautiful ball-playing from halves Finch and Feleti Mateo.
Joel Reddy completed the rout with a try eight seconds from time, Burt sending the Eels fans home and smiling all the way to Parramatta with a sideline conversion to finish with 16 points for the game.
The Eels will take a whole bag of confidence from this heavy win, while the Tigers were without some of their firepower – there is no doubt this is the kick along the Eels needed, finally able to keep the intensity up for the majority of the 80 minutes. For the Tigers, their injury problems are getting out of control and this is generally the time of the year that the merged club starts to drop off the pace. At the same time in the 2007 NRL season, Wests were in 3rd spot but soon faltered to miss the Top 8 for the second year in succession.