The Parramatta Eels have had a stuttering start to their season, eking out an unconvincing victory over the Gold Coast Titans in a 32-28 affair.
The beginning of a season is filled with such promise and anticipation. Parramatta Eels, after being there or thereabouts in recent seasons, were looking to more firmly place themselves in the “there” category in 2022.
For the Titans, a slew of new faces would hope to build upon the Top Eight finish in 2021.
The Eels hit the ground running, with replacement winger Sean Russell scurrying over in the 4th minute off a wonderful ball from captain Clint Gutherson.
Not long after and Mitchell Moses set up one of the wildest tries in Rugby League history. From his own end of the field, the halfback booted the ball 60 metres to hit the goalpost on a dime.
The resultant chaos allowed Dylan Brown to quickly pounce on the ball, toeing it through for Russell to pick up his second.
Compounding errors would soon allow the Titans back into the game however and Phillip Sami returned serve against the run of play.
This would begin a crazy run of tries in a 48-point first half. Shaun Lane, Waqa Blake, and a Sean Russell all crossed again for the Eels before the break, while Erin Clark and Brian Kelly with a double would add to the Titans’ tally.
Unfortunately for the Eels, Sean Russell would be injured in his hat-trick try. A rushing Jayden Campbell slid in on his knees, collecting Russell in the ribs and sending him to hospital.
The re-arrangement for the Eels saw Jacob Arthur come on in 5/8, with Dylan Brown in centre and Penisini on the wing. This would de-rail their attack in the second half.
If the first half was a chaotic try-fest, the second half was a dour shootout.
While Sami would cross again in the first minute of the second half, no more tries would come after that 41st minute.
Titans would lead for much of the second half, but three late penalty goals to Mitchell Moses would seal the deal for the Eels in controversial circumstances.
The Eels were disjointed in the second half and Jacob Arthur was behind much of that.
He will improve with time but it has left some questioning if he is yet ready for the rigors of first grade.
Coach Brad Arthur would be furious at the defensive lapses and errors at the start of the game that allowed the Titans to pile on the points of their own.
While Titans boss Justin Holbrook would be pleased with the way his side went toe-to-toe with a widely-regarded Premiership contender, the head honcho had a few choice words for the referees in his post-game press conference, lamenting certain 50/50 calls and the intervention of the bunker.
The Eels will hope to improve when they come up against Cronulla next week, while the Titans will have an opportunity to kickstart their Premiership campaign against the Warriors
Parramatta Eels 32 (Russell 3, Lane, Blake) def Gold Coast Titans 28 (Sami 2, Kelly 2, Clark)
NRL News Player of the Match
3 Points – Mitchell Moses (PAR)
2 Points – Toby Sexton (GCT)
1 Point – Sean Russell (PAR)