The Parramatta Eels secured their sixth consecutive victory in commanding style as they toppled the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs by 20-4 at ANZ Stadium on Thursday night.
Eels Dark Days are Over
The victory for the Eels ensures that they will return to finals football in 2017 for the first time since 2009. Parramatta and its fans have done it tough over the last seven seasons. A time which included back to back wooden spoons in 2012 and 2013, the salary cap scandal of last year which disqualified them from playing finals football and other off field incidents which heavily distracted Parramatta’s progress as a club. Those dark days are certainly over as the Eels can look forward to the prospect of possibly securing a top four spot heading into the finals.
Parramatta in Control
In terrible weather conditions for rugby league, Parramatta were in full control forcing five goal line drop outs inside the first 20 minutes of the game. Canterbury showed a lot of grit and determination in defence but constantly coughed the ball up in their own half of the field. Parramatta would make them pay through interchange forward Daniel Alvaro who barged over from close range, before Mitchell Moses added the extra two points which gave his side an early 6-nil lead.
Corey Norman and Mitchell Moses conjured up an amazing kicking game in the wet weather. Going back to basics and keeping a majority of their kicks along the carpet. Moses was unstoppable as he bolted threw a hole in the Bulldogs defence. Bevan French who is proving to be an excellent replacement for Clint Gutherson at fullback received a perfect outside ball from Moses who landed the conversion. The away team extended their lead to 12-nil.
Canterbury were completely off their game and showed no signs of threatening the Eels defence. Semi Radradra caused further headaches for the Bulldogs as he crossed over for his 12th try for the season. Parramatta led 16-nil with eight minutes to go until half-time.
Bulldogs Getting Hard to Watch
The Bulldogs have been energetic and passionate in defence throughout 2017 but yet again defence wasn’t the problem. It was their attack. Bulldogs fans must be having a difficult time witnessing a team which has scored the lowest amount points in 2017. After defending in their own half for nearly the entire first half, Canterbury finally had their first set of six inside the Eels 20 metre zone just minutes before the half-time siren. They gained penalties and forced back to back drop outs. It then became a sight which has been seen too often as they went through another first half scoreless.
Before the match coach Des Hasler decided to move Chase Stanley to five eighth, Josh Reynolds would play halfback meaning Matt Frawley would start from the bench. This gamble didn’t pay off as the Bulldogs were let down by poor fifth tackle options. Many thought the poor weather conditions would even out the contest but Canterbury produced another lacklustre performance in attack. How can a team with so much potential and talent struggle to cross the try line week in and week out. Hopefully in the last four matches of season the Bulldogs can show improvement in this facet of the game. Not only to carry high spirits into 2018 but to protect the job of their coach Des Hasler.
The rare shining light for the Bulldogs on Thursday night was the Marcelo Montoya try which began out of absolutely nothing. On the halfway line Brenko Lee managed get around the outside of his opponent and assisted Montoya with a brilliant outside ball. Chase Stanley missed his sideline conversion as the Bulldogs trailed the Eels by 16-4.
Parramatta Seal the Deal
Parramatta’s point scoring prowess was brought to a halt as the rain became torrential. But the 16-4 lead allowed for Parramatta not to panic and protect a lead which was too big to chase down in hideous weather. The Bulldogs were forced to play catch up football but were unable to break the tight defence of Parramatta. Two penalty goals from Mitchell Moses were the only points Brad Arthur and his men produced in the second period. At full-time the Eels had every reason to be happy as they secured a 20-4 victory and a spot in the 2017 finals.
Parramatta Eels 16
Tries: Daniel Alvaro, Bevan French, Semi Radradra
Goals: Mitchell Moses 4
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 4
Try: Marcelo Montoya