Dejected Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has suggested his side was playing to protect a lead rather than trying to win after watching them get run down against Wests Tigers on Easter Monday.
The injury-ravaged outfit was up 6-4 with 12 minutes remaining but coughed the ball up inside their own red-zone on three successive sets to hand the visitors a gilt-edged chance to steal the win – a chance they took in fine style with three late tries.
Parramatta was down to three men on the bench with two back-rowers playing out in the centres after Ryan Morgan (concussion) didn't play in the second half and the side's opening round three quarter line of Semi Radradra, Brad Takairangi, Beau Champion and Reece Robinson were all absentees due to injury already.
"I just think we didn't play to win, we were trying to protect the lead, or play to not get beaten," Arthur said.
"Making three errors, three sets in a row, we didn't complete coming out of our red zone. We got to our last tackle, we needed to be able to defend that last play."
Arthur was happy with the decision to ignore a free two points for a penalty right before half time – which would have made it 8-0 to the Eels – describing it as "positive". He said it was the side's execution that let them down.
"They just did things a little bit quicker and harder than us," he added.
"It didn't help us [having Morgan join the rest of the backs on the sideline]. Still, at the end of the day it was 6-4 with 12 minutes to go. We complete our sets and kick the ball down the other end of the field we might have been able to claw our way to a win with two back-rowers in the centres. It's not an excuse for us."
Of the absent backs, only Reece Robinson – who has a minor quad strain – is expected to be fit to face the Titans at Pirtek Stadium next Saturday.
Skipper Tim Mannah said it was a game that "we let get away from us a bit towards the end".
"We hung in there for a little while, but shot ourselves in the foot a bit again today which has happened a couple of times this year. We just need to be able to take control of the game."