The Parramatta Eels will wait on other round 24 results to see if they will reclaim their top four position on the NRL ladder after they comfortably defeated an injury depleted Gold Coast Titans side by 30-8 at ANZ Stadium on Thursday night.
An important victory for the Eels
The Eels were certainly out to prove a point and produced a well controlled and solid performance in front of their home fans. It was a much needed victory for Parramatta with the bottom half of the top eight proving to be a logjam. It was important the Eels separated themselves from the rest of the fleet and keep their top four hopes aspirations alive.
It wasn’t one of their best performances of the year as they started the game slowly. The Titans were a determined football team and seemed to be a much more organised in their defence. They generated plenty of opportunities with the football in the first period but were held scoreless by a tough Eels side. After John Olive suffered a sickening elbow injury for the Titans, Parramatta controlled the game as Moses and Norman conjured up another outstanding halves performance. Daniel Alvaro was too hard to stop for his effort five metres out from the Titans goal line and Tepai Moeroa was assisted by a nice short ball from Moses who converted both tries to give his side a 12-nil lead.
Will Smith’s double and Semi Controversy
The Titans felt they were right in the game when Parramatta fullback Bevan French left the field injured. Will Smith replaced French at fullback and made a brilliant contribution to the team by scoring two excellent tries and making two line breaks.
Semi Radradra gained 183 metres with the ball in hand but posted a controversial try. Before he sprinted 90 metres down the touchline he appeared to knock the ball on as the decision was reviewed to the officials in the bunker who believed they had insufficient evidence to overturn the on field decision of try from referee Grant Atkins. Mitchell Moses had no issues with the boot and landed three more conversions which secured a 30-8 victory. The Eels will play their final two games of the regular season against the Broncos and Rabbitohs.
Even though Gold Coast hasn’t had much to cheer about in 2017, there is something their fans can be excited for. Rookie forward Ben Nakubuwai had a night he will never forget as he scored a try in his maiden NRL first grade game. The young gun has a great story of his own. He has already played three representative tests for Fiji and played under 20’s for the Melbourne Storm. Fiji has started to build a reputation of becoming a prominent breeding ground for NRL players like Semi Radradra, Suliasi Vunivalu and Kevin Naiqama. With the injection of a Fijian team in 2018’s Intrust Super Premiership. Rugby league fans can finally start to see the progression and growth of rugby league on the international scene.
What Other NRL Clubs Can Learn From the Titans Fiasco
Despite being gutsy and resilient at times, the Titans weren’t able to produce an upset. There only tries came in the second period through William Zillman and Ben Nakubuwai who worked hard all night for the visitors. After having the week from hell with off field distractions and internal conflict, Gold Coast needed a win to boost their morale and get the media talking about their football. Instead the future of coach Neil Henry is under the microscope and Jarryd Hayne isn’t a shoe in for continuing with the same club next year. The Titans will take on the Bulldogs and Roosters in their last two matches of the season. After that they can clear this matter up once and for all and finally plan out their 2018 campaign. It’s disappointing that this debacle has occurred during the season. The board, coach and players need to all be on the same page and all other NRL clubs can learn a lesson from the Titans internal divisions. When these situations occur during the season it can not only disappoint fans but it can turn them off the game completely.
Parramatta Eels 30
Tries: Will Smith 2, Tepai Moeroa, Daniel Alvaro, Semi Radradra
Goals: Mitchell Moses 5
Gold Coast Titans 8
Tries: Ben Nakubuwai, William Zillman