Eels rue last tackle options
Eels coach Brad Arthur lamented a lack of composure and a slew of poor last tackle options as the key reasons for Parramatta's first defeat at Pirtek Stadium this year, going down 16-10 to a plucky Knights outfit on Sunday afternoon.
Despite making most of the running in the second half and creating plenty of chances with some typical blue and gold hot potato football, the Eels were guilty of pushing the final pass too many times as they set up camp in the Knights end of the paddock.
With the Eels peppering the Knights’ left edge defence and consistently threatening the Newcastle line, Semi Radradra's 69th minute try set the home side up for a grand stand finish as they clawed back to within a converted try having trailed 16-6 at halftime, but the Knights’ scramble defence forced Parramatta into a number of errors that ultimately cost them as the game went down to the wire.
Arthur admitted after the match that his side's poor execution was the reason for the Eels first loss at their Parramatta base in eight games, going back to a 40-6 defeat to Manly in Round 21 of last year.
"They managed the game better than us," said Arthur.
"We didn't build any pressure; we didn't get any repeat sets in the second half except off the back of a couple of penalties.
The Eels were caught with the ball on a number of occasions having chanced their arm by running it on the last, and Arthur conceded a more structured approach with the ball in hand may have seen a different result in front of another vocal Parramatta crowd of 15,566.
"It's alright backing yourself and running the footy, but we've got to get the timing right of when we need to do it and trying to get to some kicks more often," said Arthur.
"I think that our attack was OK, a little bit rusty at times, but we created enough opportunities that we should've capitalised on and maybe shown a bit more patience at times but they scored two tries off kicks and we didn’t go away.
"We kept trying right to the death and we gave ourselves every opportunity.
"We just need to execute a little bit better and build some pressure."
The loss, combined with the Warriors’ win in New Zealand earlier in the afternoon, tipped the Eels out of the Top 8 for the first time in six weeks, though skipper Jarryd Hayne said the side‘s second loss in a row, following on from last week's 46-20 thumping in Melbourne, would prove a valuable learning experience for his team.
"I think now we're at a point where we're figuring out as a team how to grind out games and how to stay in it with the good teams," said Hayne.
"We've got a very young team, young halves, two new halves and I think when we look back on the review we'll see the opportunities we missed.
"That's probably the most disappointing thing; it wasn't through lack of effort or lack of trying. It was through lack of composure and those last tackle options."
The Eels will have a week off with the bye in Round 17, in which attacking linchpin Hayne will head into Origin camp with NSW, before taking on the Warriors in New Zealand for what looms as a crucial clash.