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Slick Eels bath the Raiders at Parramatta Stadium
Parramatta Eels 38 def Canberra Raiders 6

How can anyone pick NRL results these days? After running riot against Newcastle last Monday night the young Canberra Raiders got absolutely bathed by the Eels tonight, losing by 32 points at the rainy and wet Parramatta dome.

The Eels saw some large scale changes prior to kick-off, after losing Cayless, Tahu and Finch to injuries. Coming into the side were debutants Blake Green at pivot and Kristian Inu at Centre. Also coming into the side was big bopper Richie Fa’oso. PJ Marsh got the nod in the starting side, and Riddell was pushed to the bench.

Both teams took an age to settle down after the kick off, with plenty of dropped ball and sloppy play. The Raiders enjoying 80 percent possession and all the field position in the first 10 minutes, but simply unable to score a try or even get a repeat set on their own merits.

The game finally saw some points, when Nathan Hindmarsh ran 70m through the middle of the ruck untouched to score under the posts. Raiders fullback Zillman was no where to be seen, and I think this try set the scene for the result tonight.

The Eels touched down again prior to half time through Ben Smith after a dropped ball from Zillman off a Tim Smith kick; but really niether side seemed keen to play safe, wet weather football.

In the second half the Raiders brain snapped from the opening play; after being gifted a ball 20m out from the Eels line – the Raiders dropped the ball from a bungled wedge scrum push play and then threw in a penalty to boot.

The Eels scored from the ensuing set and never looked back.

It was the confidence injection the Eels needed; suddenly Tim Smith cut out passes were sticking, Hayne was finding space and pulling off flick passes – all of this in shockling slippery conditions.

Debutants Green and Inu were sparkling in their first taste of the big time. Green, who plays half in reserve grade didn’t over play his hand and let Tim Smith steer the ship – a stark contrast to the ‘too many cooks’ situation when Smith and Finch play together. Green injected some well placed kicks and was faultless in defence.

Outwide Inu was always dangerous. Parramatta must have no worries with Tahu heading to Rugby Union, as Inu will comfortably slip into the vacant centre role. Inu beat his opposite Colin Best on several occasions and combined well with Jarryd Hayne who played junior grades with Inu in the Cabramatta ranks.

The Parramatta forwards finally put their hand up and all played well at once – the result saw Scott Logan and Neville Costigan battered and turned away on many occasions. Ben Smith must be wrapped for his marking of Costigan. Whenever the big former Bronco ran the ball – Ben Smith was all over him snapping his legs from under him on many occasions.

Even PJ Marsh got in on the act, putting an absolute massive hit on Scott Logan mid-way through the second half. Logan was never the same, spending the rest of the match hunting Marsh and getting penalised soon after.

The Eels did have some luck in attack and most plays they tried came off. Hindmarsh and Ben Smith bagged doubles and forwards Riddell and Cordoba both scored rare tries.

The Parramatta Eels really needed a win like this to boost confidence, and while Canberra played poorly – fortune favours the brave – and the Eels kicked away to a big win.

For Canberra, its back to the drawing board. Last Monday nights win seems worlds away now. Too much ball was dropped too easily and ruck defence was absolutely woeful. Apart from Michael Weyman and Dane Tilse – the Canberra forwards got towelled up by the much maligned Eels pack.

It’s not all bad news for the Raiders however, as they face the equally poor Roosters next week in what should be a battle of the cellar dwellers – this might be a good night to wash your hair.

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By ricky

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