Sandow 'solid' in first appearance of 2014
Jarryd Hayne was his normal match-winning self, putting on a show in the second half of Parramatta's 32-16 win over Penrith to delight the faithful. Winger Semi Radradra continued to play his role as cult hero with yet another opposition-destroying four-pointer, while unknown second-rower Manu Ma'u is continued to make a name for himself, starting with Brad Arthur's favourite three plays of last night's game.
"There were plenty of individual efforts. I think Manu Ma'u, just after halftime, come up with that try [was one]," Arthur professed post-game.
"But if you go back and have a look at the six tackles, he carried the ball three times in that set, and then makes a special effort to score a try. I think he did a reasonable job too."
It was that kind of the night for Parramatta, where the praises were sung from fullback to the bench and back again, after overpowering Penrith 32-16 in front of a vocal crowd of 14,448.
But there was one figure Arthur was careful in singing about, an expensive little elephant in the room who made his first appearance since undergoing rehabilitation for gambling issues late last season.
He kicked four from six; he pulled off a chip and chase that almost resulted in a pearler of a try; and in general play he kicked truly – if not accurately – for the majority of the match.
Chris Sandow made a name for himself for the big plays, but Arthur gave the fella originally dubbed the 'Aboriginal Alfie' a mere pass mark in his first outing of the season.
"He was solid. Still some things that we need to get better, but he was solid," Arthur offered first up. "As long as he gets better next week, we'll have a look at it again after that."
Pressed for more, the defensive disciplinarian still wasn't going to give much away.
"There were some things that he had to go away and work on. He's been really positive around the place while he was doing that, and he went back to Wenty and had three good games," he said.
"Goalkicking helps, and I thought he deserved his opportunity."
Not even the normally effusive skipper Tim Mannah was prepared to lavish praise on the talented yet troubled halfback, instead deferring admiration for his teammates.
"It was good [having him there], but everyone made it easy for each other. Everyone worked hard for each other," Mannah said.
Hooker Nathan Peats said Sandow wasn't any different to the one he played with at Redfern in 2011.
"He's the same. Chip and chasing, going himself. It was good to see him playing with some confidence considering he hasn't played first grade in a while. It was good to see and hopefully he gets better and better," Peats said.
He too preferred not to heap any more pressure on his new scrumbase partner after just one game, but relented when asked what difference a fit and healthy Sandow makes to Parramatta.
"You can see by tonight, we got the two points. Hopefully the healthier he is and the better he is mentally, the better we go."