The Parramatta Eels have managed to dispatch their arch-rivals in the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs without moving out of second gear in a comfortable 32-10 dismantling.
Last week, a valiant effort from the Bulldogs saw the Belmore boys chalk up their first win of the season against an under-performing Cronulla Sharks outfit.
Heading into this game, many fans would have been hoping that Canterbury might be able to continue that run of form, with a strong showing against the perennial enemy in the Parramatta Eels.
Unfortunately, that light was quickly extinguished when the Eels swiftly got to work at Stadium Australia.
The first danger signs immediately turned to emergency red when Reed Mahoney began sparking attacking raids out of dummy-half very early in the game.
A quick spin and a tackle bust would see the nifty number 9 put Captain Clint Gutherson through a hole, leading to Parramatta’s first try in just the third minute.
A customary Sivo try would follow before Gutherson lazily beat a number of Bulldogs defenders for his second – the game blowing out to a three-try deficit in the 21st minute.
Mitchell Moses continued to lead the team around the park and, despite his lack of runs, his kicking and passing was again top-notch – if a little understated.
The addition of Bryce Cartwright to the field in the 36th minute would provide dividends – with the mercurial backrower leaping above defenders before slipping an offload to a rampaging Shaun Lane just after halftime.
Lane, up against his old club in the Bulldogs, might not have been pleased having been demoted to the bench but would surely have lapped up a try facing off with his ex-employer.
The move to start Isaiah Papali’i on an edge and move Lane into the middle seems a strong decision by coach Brad Arthur.
Strong start aside, the Eels did appear somewhat lackadaisical around the mid-point of the game and Bulldogs five-eighth Jake Averillo was able to step some disinterested defence to conjure the first points for the Bulldogs five minutes after the restart.
Ten minutes later and it was the returning Dallin Watene-Zelezniak who brought the game to within two converted tries – giving the Bulldogs more than a sniff.
If Canterbury were angling for a Broncos-inspired comeback from 22 points down, the Clint Gutherson-led Parramatta Eels had other ideas.
While they never truly got going, the Eels were easily able to lay on some late tries to take the game beyond question.
With 15 minutes to go, the score was 32-10 and nowhere to go for the ailing Bulldogs.
It was at this point in the game that inspirational fullback Gutherson received his early mark and the Eels settled in for an uneventful end to the game.
While the Eels continue winning and are sitting pretty at second on the ladder, the team seemed to do “just enough” tonight and never strove to prove their worth, allowing the Bulldogs to get away with what ended up being a flattering score – so large was the gap in skill.
For the Bulldogs, there were enough signs of hope that fans would not be entirely distraught – but mostly they will be looking forward to 2022 and the arrival of a host of stars including Matt Burton and Josh Addo-Carr.
Parramatta Eels 32 (Gutherson 2, Sivo 2, Lane, Niukore) def Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 10 (Averillo, Watene-Zelezniak)
NRL News Player of the Match
3 Points – Clint Gutherson 3 (PAR)
2 Points – Reed Mahoney (PAR)
1 Point – Mitchell Moses (PAR)