Eels to stick with Kelly for Souths
After coming agonisingly close to notching their fourth win of the season before going down in golden point to an injury-hit Warriors side, the Eels will stick with their new halves combination of Corey Norman and Luke Kelly despite a man-of-the-match effort from dumped half Chris Sandow in NSW Cup.
Wentworthville trounced the Warriors 48-6 as the curtain-raiser to the first grade game with Sandow heavily involved, setting up several tries, nailing a 40/20 kick and kicking eight conversions from as many attempts.
That kicking game would have helped the first-grade side, who outscored their opponents three tries to two in 80 minutes but missed all three conversions; Warriors halfback Johnson nailed two from two – including one from the sideline – to force the teams into a field goal shootout late in the match before the Warriors stole a golden point win.
However Arthur said Sandow should be expected to excel in the lower grades and he'd stick with Kelly for at least another week.
Despite the three missed goals Kelly had a solid game, nailing a do-or-die 79th-minute field goal to level the scores at 13-all and force extra time, while his chip kick led to the Eels' first try and sparked their second-half resurgence.
"He helped Corey [Norman] control the game and defensively he was good," Arthur said of Kelly, who made 18 tackles with one miss.
Arthur conceded that Sandow "went really good" for Wentworthville but added, "He needs to at that level. He needs to go back there and play above that level."
Norman, who will again team up with Kelly on Friday night against Souths, also backed his new halves partner after the narrow loss.
"I thought Luke played well, very vocal out there, I thought his whole game was good," Norman told NRL.com.
"He called [for the field goal shot] and he got it and good on him."
Norman said none of the Eels blamed the halfback's missed conversions – all tricky shots, two from the sideline – for the loss.
"Mate no-one blames him for that, we had other reasons why we lost that game and we're definitely not going to put that on him," he said.
Norman welcomed a chance for the pair to build on their game next Friday. "We've got a short turnaround and we're back [at training] on Monday so me and him will get back into it and have a look at a bit of video and see where we can improve."
Second-rower Tepai Moeroa, himself playing in the top grade for the first time since being hospitalised with an infection after Round 5, has spent the past few weeks playing alongside Kelly for Wentworthville and also supported the halfback's efforts in his first top-grade game of 2015.
"I reckon he did pretty good, his first game of the year, he controlled the game well," Moeroa said.
Of the clutch field goal, Moeroa added: "That's the type of player he is, kept his head, kept his cool and got the kick."
The Eels face a Rabbitohs outfit that will be missing, at the very least, fullback and captain Greg Inglis due to Origin duty, next Friday at ANZ Stadium.