Not even Nostradamus could have predicted this result! Parramatta, who have spent parts of this season in 16th place, did not just defeat the Bulldogs, they dominated them. It left Eels fans wondering – where has this been all season?
It was always going take time for Daniel Anderson to establish his ideals and game plan with this Parramatta side, but it seems that in Round 20, it has finally clicked.
Bulldogs coach Kevin Moore acknowledged the Eels were excellent, but also knew his side had not turned up with the same commitment and energy that has kept them in the top two for much of the year. Alarm bells are not ringing for the Bulldogs, but this may just have been the game they needed for them to realise their job is not done quite yet in 2009.
The Game Swung When: The momentum had shifted from the Eels, up 10-0 after just 14 minutes, to the Bulldogs by halftime. Only an uncharacteristic poor performance with the boot by Hazem El Masri kept the Eels in front.
The body language of Parramatta had changed. It was not helped when the Eels were penalised on the first tackle of the second half after an Eric Grothe high tackle. However, the winger was keen to make amends and he turned the momentum back towards the Eels with a try created from sheer strength. When the Eels got their chance inside the Bulldogs’ 20-metre zone it was converted, and a great try to replacement hooker Kevin Kingston five minutes later almost put the game out of reach.
Who Was Hot: From his very first hit-up of the game, bursting through the Bulldogs’ defence, Cumberland cult hero Fuifui Moimoi was destructive.
Moimoi plays at a high tempo but is unable to keep that up for the full game; coach Anderson knows this so uses him sparingly. But when he is on the field, he is hard to bring down.
In just 38 minutes against the Bulldogs he made 172 metres and was always testing the opposition defence. It was fitting then that he closed the game the way he opened it – with a try where he beat three tacklers and leapt over the try line to seal the comprehensive victory.
Yet again Jarryd Hayne was one of the Eels’ best, prompting many commentators to label him the benchmark in the game at the moment. He ran for 194 metres and made two line breaks, including a 70-metre dash from his try line. However it was his less-flashy plays that stood out. The Eels withstood the Bulldogs attackers in their own 20-metre zone 44 times, with Hayne’s goal-line defence in particular excellent.
Winger Eric Grothe scored two tries, while Daniel Mortimer, playing against the club synonymous with his surname, was solid and not at all overawed.
Who Was Not: The Bulldogs in general. The Eels’ defence kept them scoreless in the second half and players who are usually effective were kept quiet.
Josh Morris was rarely sighted. And after scoring a try early in the first half Jamal Idris was dominated by Joel Reddy, including being on the end of one huge tackle that caused a knock-on.
Coming down from the high of State of Origin, Brett Kimmorley was slammed back to earth with a poor performance and not one try assist. His fifth-tackle options were not effective and Parramatta were quick in containing him.
Had To Be Seen To Be Believed: Daniel Mortimer put the nerves to bed early, setting up Luke Burt for Parramatta’s first try in the 9th minute.
Krisnan Inu offloaded to Mortimer, who broke through the line and grubbered for Burt, streaming towards the try line. The ball looked like it would roll out before Burt could get to it but somehow the veteran winger scooped and grounded it in-goal.
Idris’ try for the Bulldogs’ first points featured his brute strength, where bizarrely he ended up with his entire body in-goal but the ball in the field of play. The ref did not refer to his video counterpart, seemingly sure he had seen the ball over the try line. However replays put some doubt on the decision. Luckily for the Eels it did not affect the final result.
Injuries: Both teams came through unscathed.
Refs Watch: Awarding Idris’ try without referral was questionable in hindsight, and the only controversial decision.
NRL.com Best & Fairest: 3 points – Jarryd Hayne (Eels): No stopping this man – broke the line twice but his defence and kick-defusing were also excellent; 2 points – Fuifui Moimoi (Eels): Only on the field for 38 minutes but Moimoi kept the Eels marching forward every time he had the ball. Also scored the final try; 1 point – Daniel Mortimer (Eels): Set up a try, made a line break and made 25 tackles as the Bulldogs threw everything at him.
Eels 27 (E Grothe 2, L Burt, K Kingston, F Moimoi tries; L Burt 3 goals, L Burt field-goal) def Bulldogs 8 (J Idris, B Goodwin tries) at ANZ Stadium. Crowd: 31,664.