Eels finish season on a positive note
For the disastrous season the Parramatta Eels have endured they made sure to finish the year going out on a high as they played well in atrocious wet weather conditions to record a solid 40-18 victory. While they started the game conceding two relatively soft tries they bounced back with enthusiasm, taking advantage of errors from the Warriors and showing off the trademark attacking flair of players like Bevan French and Semi Radradra to carve through their opponents and rack up 7 tries for the day.
The effort and determination the Eels have continued to play with long after their chances of making the finals had ended and the makeshift roster they had to play with has been incredible. The win was a just reward for their efforts and coach Brad Arthur can start to plan for a brighter 2017.
Bevan French caps off stellar debut year
The emergence of Bevan French has been the light at the end of the tunnel for Eels fans in 2016. Against the Warriors he nabbed the third hat-trick of his brief career to take his try tally to an amazing 19 tries from 13 games to place 3rd on the top try-scorers list for the regular season and break the record for most amount of tries for an Eel in their debut season. His support play was sublime, backing up a Radradra line break to cross for his first try while his speed and acceleration enabled him to slice through some poor defence from the Warriors for his 2nd and 3rd.
French can now look forward to a full pre-season of training in the fullback position where he can develop his defensive skills and the demands of a whole season in the 1 jersey.
Warriors put in one final disappointing performance
The Warriors started the game strong, taking a 12-0 lead within the opening 8 minutes before the Eels had even touched the ball. In typical Warriors fashion though they let this advantage slip as they crumbled in defence and made a lot of silly errors leading to tries bordering on being comical. A handling error by Tui Lolohea on the 20m mark saw Isaac De Gois scoop up the ball and race away in slow motion to the try-line. What followed was even more embarrassing as three minutes later, the Eels pushed in a scrum on the Warriors goal-line and in an attempt to pass it, the ball hit one of their legs and went to ground with De Gois pouncing on it again to grab a quick double.
The Warriors finished with a 60% completion rate to their opponents 85% and they were forced into 7 line drop-outs while being unable to force even one from their opposition. They lacked energy and made simple errors which were well below first grade standards with Shaun Johnson stating it was ‘basic fundamentals which we don’t place enough importance on at the moment’ that hurt them.
To their credit there was a half hour period in the 2nd half where they defended multiple repeat sets on their line and didn’t concede a try but the mistakes they made never gave them a chance to fight back. It was an up and down performance that reflected their season as a whole and the type of team they are. Consistency has always been the enemy for the Warriors and they’ll be hoping they can finally solve the mystery behind it before 2017 becomes another season of what if’s.
Farewell to Thomas Leuluai leaves Warriors short in the halves
Sunday’s game marked the last NRL game for Thomas Leuluai. A versatile utility player who spent most of his careers in the halves also proved to be a handy dummy half playing at Hooker for the Kiwis in their 2008 World Cup victory over Australia. He was one of the Warriors best players in 2016 and managed to be a stable presence in the halves despite the erratic nature of the Warriors. His departure will leave them short on an experienced halves partner who can complement Johnson with Tui Lolohea’s confidence shaken from being moved around the backline and constantly dropped and recalled throughout the year. Ata Hingano has made a few appearances in first grade in recent weeks and looms as a potential replacement but it seems as if the Warriors will have to look to the open market in order to fill the void of the experienced and reliable Leuluai.
Bodene Thompson had an issue with his hamstring and took no further part in the game after half an hour.
Parramatta Eels– 40
Tries: Isaac De Gois (17m, 20m), Semi Radradra (28m), Bevan French (35m, 42m, 46m), Michael Jennings (77m)
Goals: Michael Gordon 5/6
Semi Radradra 1/1
New Zealand Warriors– 18
Tries: Manu Vatuvei (3m), Simon Mannering (6m, 32m)
Goals: Issac Luke 3/3