Parramatta’s NRL resurgence continues unabated after sweeping aside fellow top four aspirants Canberra 36-6 on Saturday at Pirtek Stadium.
The Eels dominated Canberra in the opening half to lead 24-0 at halftime, with the Raiders then unable to crack Parramatta’s stoic defence for seven straight minutes after the break, effectively sealing the round-six contest.
Canberra had entered the match in third spot on the ladder after their impressive last-start win over Canterbury. For the Eels, the six-tries-to-one win was the perfect way to bounce back from last weekend’s last-gasp loss to Penrith.
“I was very happy with the first half,” Eels coach Brad Arthur said.
“I thought our defence was nice and aggressive and we had a fast moving line.
“We made an error first set of the second half and then it was seven sets or around seven minutes we spent defending our tryline. There is a bit of confidence about our tryline defence at the moment.”
Arthur was more impressed with his side’s attack than their defence, the NRL’s most miserly.
“We started to look OK with the football,” he said.
“Our halves had two sessions together this week, we haven’t had that (over the first five rounds due to a hamstring injury to Kieran Foran) and our halves looked more comfortable together.”
The Eels ran in first-half tries to Michael Jennings in the fourth and 16th minutes. That was followed by a brilliant individual effort from Foran in the 26th minute when he broke the Raiders’ line and beat fullback Jack Wighton with a big left-foot step that brought comparisons to Brad Fittler.
“I don’t think so,” Foran laughed post-match.
“It was nice to find myself in some open space. It doesn’t happen too often, so I was happy to grab it.”
Beau Scott scooped up an opportunist’s rebound to score in the 31st minute. The Eels went further ahead when Kenny Edwards crossed in the 57th minute to blow the score out to 30-nil. Blake Austin managed the visitors’ only try in the 64th minute when he chased down a Jordan Rapana kick.
Brad Takairangi completed the rout for the Eels in the 75th minute.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart refused to use the five-day turnaround as an excuse for his side.
“They certainly got the jump on us early and it was hard to drag it back through the errors we were making,” Stuart said.
“It became a trend. We couldn’t get any momentum because we just kept making errors. We were off today. We made some really silly errors which cost us. We are a better football team than that.”
Raiders forward Shaun Fenson could spend some time on the sidelines after being put on report for a 53rd-minute dangerous throw on Michael Gordon.
“I don’t think he had his hand between his legs,” Stuart said.
Canberra hooker Josh Hodgson struggled with a hand injury for much of the game, but Stuart said he would be right for next Sunday’s clash with Cronulla in the nation’s capital.
Parramatta face Manly on Thursday at Brookvale Oval in Foran’s first match against his old side. Prop Tim Mannah (shoulder) isn’t expected back for that match but should be fit for the week after.