Eels pay big cost for win
The Eels may have finally won a match - defeating the Melbourne Storm 26-22 in a tight finish - but it was done in the face of a horror injury toll that will continue to cause problems for the embattled club for weeks or months to come.
First, fullback Reece Robinson suffered a fractured cheekbone in just the fourth minute after copping an accidental knock from teammate Corey Norman, a lack of options forced Eels coach Brad Arthur to move Chris Sandow to fullback. Bench hooker Kaysa Pritchard came on and Sandow ended up playing fullback in defence and halfback in attack.
After a couple of nervy moments trying to defuse kicks – including a spilled grubber that led directly to a Storm try – Arthur lost patience and moved Norman (himself a former fullback in his days at Brisbane) back, when the side was defending.
Hooker Nathan Peats spent the latter stages of the first half off the field after an eye poke and while he returned after half-time, he left the field again with 15 minutes to go with a possible ACL tear which would be a bitter blow for both the player and the injury-hit club, with reserve hooker Isaac De Gois still out with a fractured cheek. Peats will go for scans to determine the extent of the injury, which the club is hoping will turn out to be a more minor ligament strain rather than a season-ending rupture.
Back-rower Anthony Watmough, in his 300th NRL game, also finished up early, leaving the field with about 17 minutes remaining with an arm injury and left centre Brad Takairangi battled throughout the game with a knee injury that in other circumstances may have resulted in him being taken off, but the side couldn't afford to lose another outside back.
Watmough is expected to be available after the side's Round 15 bye while Takairangi is continuing to manage the ongoing knee injury and will be monitored.
News then came after full-time that luckless hooker Kaysa Pritchard may have torn another pec, which would leave the Eels without all three of their hookers until De Gois returns to action.
In the interim, halfback Luke Kelly or NYC halfback or hooker Zack Dockar-Clay appear the most likely to fill the void.