Solid Saints get Eels 18-12

The Dragons have started their 2010 NRL campaign extremely well, their win was a tradesman like one over the more fancied Eels 18-12.

The Wayne Bennett coached side looked like they were playing mid-way through the season given how solid their structure and precision was. Long sweeping passes, error-less attack and consistently keeping the Eels pinned in their red zone were all components of their impressive victory.

Despite playing at Parramatta Stadium in front of a capacity crowd, the Eels struggled to find any cohesion for consistent periods and much like their trial form look to be trying to adapt to a more structured style after playing fairytale football at the backend of 2010 with plenty of second and third phase stuff.

The Dragons however showed no tears for their missing stars, the likes of Poore and Sailor long forgotten. The 2010 St George Illawarra side was instantly on the money with most aspects of their game – guided well by Ben Hornby and diminutive playmaker Jamie Soward.

Aided by a hungry Saints forward pack that ate metres all night, the away side gave the Eels a lesson in precision.

Parramatta were unable to get their motor-running, with a host of errors and penalties, that had them defending for most of the night.

Coach Daniel Anderson will take some solace in the Eels defence, they have to pull off a tonne of try saving tackles and completed over a hundred more tackles than their opponents who had the lions share of possession. Parramatta plenty of tackling practise, they were forced to do it all night as the relentless Saints kept coming in wave after wave of attack.

Jason Nightingale slotted back into the side well, with the Kiwi rep looking dangerous with several touches. However, fellow Kiwi player Nathan Fien was struck down with a possible broken ankle during the match which should keep him out for some time.

The Eels were hit by injury too, with Joel Reddy going down in the warm up and Shane Shackleton doing the splits and tearing a hamstring midway through the game.

With Reddy outted, Kris Inu was a last minute call up and played admirably in the centres – the elusive outside back will now get a shot at cementing a place in the Eels backline.

With a near perfect completion rate, the Dragons headed by Hornby and the radar-like kicking of Soward were comfortable from the outset.

Both halves controlled play so well for St George Illawarra, while the Eels were let down with their kicking game that rarely got them out of trouble.

Despite having a chance to tie the game in the final 5 minutes, the Eels were lucky to be that close and the Saints rarely looked like being punctured.

An ideal start for the Red and Whites, who have a tough game at home next week to the Bulldogs and the Eels remain at home to arch-rivals Manly.

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