Parramatta should have closed out Friday night's heart-stopping 18-16 win against the Cowboys far earlier, according to coach Brad Arthur.
The Eels dominated much of the match but looked to be shooting for a match-winning play on almost every set in the second half, producing a raft of errors and penalties to let the visitors back into the contest to almost snatch a late win with the match in the balance right up to the final play.
"We're a young team; we've got to learn how to control a game. It was just a game of lost opportunities," Arthur said.
"The pleasing thing is they dug deep, when [Johnathan] Thurston's running around and getting his hand on the footy in the last five minutes he's dangerous but we just kept scrambling. We found a way to win but we've got to find a way to be better. We can't dish that up again."
He said despite the late jitters he was happy with the side's effort overall, and said if they can match the effort to improved execution and patience they can become a genuine threat in the competition.
"We butchered a couple [of opportunities], I can live with that, but the second half we just tried to make things happen too quickly instead of just building into it."
Club co-captain Jarryd Hayne, returning to the side after being rested from the Round 12 loss to Penrith to recover from a brutal Origin I encounter, confessed the side was still coming to grips with being near the top of the ladder (the Eels will finish the round just two points away from the ladder-leading Bulldogs and Sea Eagles, although likely in the bottom half of the top eight).
He said while the side is playing exciting and flamboyant football, they are not yet playing like a top four team.
"The most important thing is to win but like Brad said, we needed to shut that game out and really put them away," he said.
He added while the loss to Penrith was a "wake-up call", the side would be able to take more out of the gritty win over the Cowboys.
"To have a team like North Queensland come down and be so dominant, we really need to put teams like that away," he said.
"It was exactly like Manly [the 22-18 loss at Brookvale Oval in Round 3 when the Eels had been ahead with two minutes to play]. We dominated Manly and they won in the final seconds.
"I thought tonight we were a lot more dominant, I'm sure they were shaking their heads how they got back in that game."