It’s impossible to predict when the Eels will turn up to play, but when they do – they certainly look the goods.
It was evident from the first set of 6 tackles that Parramatta were ‘up’ for this contest. A fearless Fui charge early, a massive roll downfield – finished with a Hayne try on the back of good footwork and strong upper body strength.
Hayne was everywhere in attack and defence. His dominance ensured the Bulldogs threw plenty of defenders at him, which essentially opened up opportunities for Hayne’s teammates. Tahu the first to take advantage of the space created by Hayne, the returning centre storming down the left edge, fending his way through to position Burt and eventually Hayne for an early touchdown.
The first 20 minutes of attacking football was captivating – for seemingly everyone except Doggies fans.
While Hayne was crucially important, with his 2 tries and ball-playing assists – it does seem that Parramatta rely heavily on the performance of Moi Moi. When the big forward starts motoring directly at the opponents line of defence, skittling tacklers everywhere – the Eels feed off the quick play the ball and physical dominance at the ruck.
With Parramatta racing the clock, they had notched up enough points before half-time to put this game to bed.
The Bulldogs to their credit had a dig in the second term, but the early blitzkrieg had wiped any real hope of a win and essentially consigns them to crossing fingers and toes, in the hope of sneaking into the NRL finals.
It seems Canterbury continues to lack the aggressive, domination in the forwards – something they had used well in their stellar 2009 season.
Few faces have changed, but the performance and perhaps the desire is costing them dearly in games.
The ever-rising stakes of Ben Barba continue to be one positive for the Dogs, with the talented half again doing his bit and helping his side mount a late charge of sorts. Perhaps Barba should have been thrown his chance in the starting line up much earlier in the year – giving the Bulldogs much needed X-Factor in attack.
The win and form for Parramatta raises questions about the best time to ‘peak’ during the NRL year.
For example, St George Illawarra have been the benchmark all year, losing very few games and proving consistent for the most part. However, the Dragons have been only average in recent weeks – escaping with some lucky victories and eventually going down in golden point tonight to the Titans at Kogarah.
As with last year, the sides chasing (including Parramatta) all had much better runs at the back-end of the season and as such the Dragons were bundled out early in the finals despite finishing first.
Maybe it’s a case of Parramatta playing better when they are absolutely desperate to keep their season alive, whatever it is – coach Daniel Anderson will want to bottle it up and hope it can be reproduced over the next 2 months.
The Eels are at home to the Roosters next week and the Bulldogs host the Bunnies.