Wests Tigers v Eels: Five key points
In an often scrappy affair, a lopsided penalty count and another double from Eels sensation Semi Radradra has helped Parramatta to a third straight win and consigned their opponents to outright last on the ladder. Here are five major talking points from the 28-16 win.
Fijian try-scoring bonanza as Radradra breaks record
Wests Tigers' flying Fijian Kevin Naiqama added another two tries to his career tally but was overshadowed by rampaging Eel Semi Radradra, who scored two or more tries for the fifth straight game – the first time in 60 years of top-flight NRL that has been achieved.
Newtown's Ray Preston was the last man to score multiples in five straight weeks back in 1954 (that actually included three hat-tricks for a stunning 13-try haul in five games) and Radradra now has 11 in his past five after a hat-trick last week against the Dragons.
After the game the softly-spoken 23-year-old revealed he'd been doing extras at training to improve under the high ball, which paid dividends on Monday night.
"I've been training there every day. I'll be the last one on the field, doing catching. The boys help me out a lot," Radradra said.
The winger added he felt guilty after getting shown up defensively in one of Naiqama's first half tries.
"Yeah, I was really disappointed. That's my job [to make those tackles]. I let the boys down with that try," he said.
Penalties cruel Tigers
An 8-2 second half penalty count and a 12-4 overall count was a major factor as the home side's second-half fadeout. A couple of calls looked 50-50 as loose efforts from Parramatta saw the ball just helped out by a Tigers hand but it's hard to argue any were wrong. There were offside penalties, high tackle penalties, and even a rare one for taking out a kick-chaser. The officials spoke to acting Tigers captain Dene Halatau about his side's discipline but it was just one of those nights.
"Possession, simply the weight of possession; 12-4 penalty count for the game, 41 sets to 29, simple as that," lamented Tigers coach Jason Taylor after the game when asked what went wrong for his team, but refused to take issue without speaking to the referees' boss Tony Archer.
"I need to go and have a look at them. There's a tackle and the ball comes out and nobody can tell what happened so we'll have a look at that and I'll talk to Tony Archer about that situation and it's as simple as that."
Mannah breaks a drought
Eels skipper Tim Mannah scored his first try in three years, the last coming in April 2012 in a loss to Newcastle.
He did it running an outside line down a short side channel where centres and at best edge back-rowers have business inhabiting. We're not sure if it was the slick dummy-half work from Isaac De Gois, the strong run from Mannah or just the fact the Tigers defenders were bamboozled to see him out that wide but whatever it was it brought a grin to the big man's face after the game.
"It's been a long time coming but the coaches put on a play there that gave me a chance and it kind of opened up a bit which was good," Mannah said.
Tedesco denied but stars anyway
Tigers fullback James Tedesco was very unlucky not to be awarded a try in the seventh minute. With the scores still nil-all Tedesco turned a ragged last-tackle option into a great attacking play with a deft kick that pulled up in-goal where returning Eels hooker Issac De Gois inexplicably flung a high-risk pass that Tedesco dived on as Eels fullback Corey Norman booted the ball dead.
The play was sent up as a no-try where the video referee deemed Tedesco – whose wrist rolled over the ball in-goal – did not have enough control to overrule the on-field call.
Undeterred, Tedesco proceeded to break nine tackled in the first half and 14 for the game while making a match-high three offloads.
He set up his side's second and third tries with some brilliant running, kicking and evasiveness although it wasn't enough to earn the win, denying him a likely Man of the Match award.
Eels on a mini-roll with five-week streak
With three straight wins rolled together with two byes the Eels will next week complete a run of 10 competition points in five rounds.
It won't be enough to see them crack the top eight although they will only be two points off eighth after next round's bye.
Things get tougher after that with the Bulldogs at ANZ followed by the Cowboys at Townsville and the Eels will need to win at least one of those to keep their slim finals hopes alive.
"It's two points. It finishes off a pretty good period for us that we've had in this middle bit [of the season]," Eels coach Brad Arthur said after the win in reference to the bye.
"We do have a few injuries and we've got a lot of blokes that, we're band-aiding them up to get them through at the moment. So the bye's probably come at a good time for us."