With the looming threat of a points deduction due to their salary cap issues, the Parramatta Eels have put on a brave, spirited display, recording a come-from-behind win against the Sydney Roosters.
In a game that had everything, from brilliant play, lovely passes, good chases, big hits and much more, the Eels held on to keep their very slim finals hopes alive once the points have been deducted.
Playing in front of their home crowd, the Eels went down 18-6 and looked somewhat flat but led by Corey Norman, they produced some attacking class and flair in the second half to then take the lead.
Norman finished with four try assists, as he laid on tries either by pass or kick, as he had the ball on a string – much like Johnathan Thurston usually does.
Another week filled with off-field turmoil, the Eels dug deep and were finished the game with just 15 players after Semi Radradra (leg) and Issac De Gois (concussion) did not return after suffering injuries early.
Returning for the Eels was Jeff Robson, playing in his first game for the club since 2011. Named at half, he eventually had to spend much of the game at hooker after De Gois went off early.
The Roosters burst out of the blocks and were the better team to start the game. Led by the returning Boyd Cordner and the flamboyant Latrell Mitchell, they were on top early.
Targeting the smaller Bevan French on the wing who was up against Daniel Tupou, the Roosters scored two tries down the Eels right edge defence, making the most of the height advantage.
But it was not to be, as the Eels held on for a win despite the Roosters best efforts and some steely resolve from the Eels.
The loss effectively ends the finals hopes for the Tricolours.
With re-shuffles galore, Eels coach Brad Arthur admits at times, he did not know who was playing where.
“I’ll have to be honest, I don’t even know what really happened in the second half, who was playing where,” coach Brad Arthur said after the game.
“Dan Alvaro had to play 40 minutes in the second half as a front rower. We just had all our big fellas out there filling in somewhere in the line so it was a pretty tough effort.
“Especially [from] 18-6, to come back â€“ It would have been very easy to say ‘well we’ve got enough excuses, we’ve got blokes all over the place, how are we going to score a try’. I think that’s the way we’ve played pretty much all year, tough resilient. We haven’t played great footy but it’s been good enough to win games.”
In control at 18-6, Trent Robinson lamented his side’s errors that allowed the Eels back into the game and ultimately, to the win.
“I thought we were on top there at 18-6â€¦ we had errors and penalties following that and then some big misses on a kick and a line [run] from Manu Ma’u [to score]. Pretty disappointing,” said Roosters coach Trent Robinson.
“If you give them an opportunity, if you give them possession close to the line and you give them penalties â€“ It’s a game of football, they’re going to attack the line. That’s what happened. When we’ve made errors we’ve made big errors this year.
“We’ve been defending well for most of the period of the game and then we let a try in. It’s not even a half break it’s been a big error. It’s just been a big try out of nothing and that’s been a huge difference in our season this year.”
Player of the Game:
3. Corey Norman
2. Latrell Mitchell
1. Manu Ma’u
Eels 22 (Ma’u 2, Gordon, Gutherson tries; Gordon 3 goals) def. Roosters 18 (Mitchell 2, Cordner tries; Hastings 2 goals, Taukeiaho goal) at Pirtek Stadium. Crowd: 8464.