Parramatta’s dismal NRL season hit a new low on Friday night as a Josh Morris-inspired Canterbury cantered to a 46-12 win at ANZ Stadium.
The defeat ensured the Eels are off to their worst start to a season in 52 years, to heap more pressure on beleaguered coach Stephen Kearney.
John F Kennedy was running for the US presidency the last time a Parramatta side lost eight of their first nine games of a season, with Morris bagging his 50th try in Bulldogs colours on the way to his second hat-trick of the year.
Morris opened the scoring in the 13th minute after Ben Barba wriggled past Willie Tonga and teed up his onrushing centre.
The Eels’ response was good as they completed their opening 13 sets and looked positive in attack.
Ryan Morgan pounced onto a high kick from Casey McGuire in the 19th minute to score and young winger Ken Sio then crossed for the fourth time this season following a clever grubber-kick from Jarryd Hayne.
However, all of the hosts’ good work unravelled five minutes before halftime when the Bulldogs ran in three quick-fire tries through Morris, Tim Lafai and Dene Halatau.
All three four-pointers stemmed from Parramatta errors, with former NSW prop Justin Poore and fellow front-rower Mitchell Allgood conceding soft penalties that presented Des Hasler’s side with great field position.
And former Kiwi Test utility Halatau waltzed through some powder-puff defence to score, seconds before the siren sounded to give his side a 22-12 lead at the break.
The second half began with Allgood dropping the ball from the kick-off, and although the Bulldogs failed to capitalise, McGuire knocked-on in the following set and the visitors ran down the field and scored through Josh Reynolds.
The young playmaker has been tipped as NSW bolter, and he did his State of Origin aspirations no harm with a superb kick and chase before diving in front of Jarryd Hayne to score.
That try snuffed out any of the Eels’ remaining confidence as the Bulldogs stepped up a gear, with forwards, Sam Kasiano, James Graham and Frank Pritchard dominating.
A Kasiano pass found former Eel Kris Keating 11 minutes after the break, and his kick forward was pounced upon by Morris, who outpaced Chris Sandow to complete his treble.
Another Parramatta reject, Jonathan Wright then compounded his former club’s misery with a seventh four-pointer just after the hour-mark, with Bryson Goodwin adding another late in the game, before adding his seventh goal of the game from the sideline.
The win ended a run of three straight losses for Des Hasler’s side.