Defence carrying Eels through slow start
Parramatta aren't stressed about a lack of cohesion in attack so long as their defence is carrying them to wins – although a lack of ball security in Round 4's 8-0 win over Wests Tigers didn't impress the coach.
The Eels made 14 errors (against their opponents' 13) and conceded 10 penalties (to the Tigers' eight) but scrambled well to shut out whatever the Tigers threw at their line.
Notably, new recruit Beau Scott made 41 tackles for no misses to take his season tally to a remarkable 143 tackles with just one miss so far.
Fellow back-rower Manu Ma'u was also excellent, making 40 with one miss on Monday, and hooker Isaac De Gois made 45 with a single miss.
It continues a theme for the blue and golds who have remarkably conceded the fewest points of any NRL team this year with 39 in four games – well ahead of next-best Cronulla (50) and Canterbury (55).
Their coach credited some newfound steel in the shape of the new recruits along with continued development of the younger forwards for their early defensive resilience.
"It's only Round 4. It's great at the moment. It needs to be because our attack isn't scoring too many tries so it needs to be good," Arthur said when reminded his team had the NRL's best defence at this stage.
"It was pleasing that we managed to keep them to nil. The last couple of weeks we've let in a couple of soft tries at the back end of the game which have been disappointing [but] we were well off where we needed to be with the footy."
Arthur credited the improvement compared to last year to an improved attitude and belief rather than ability.
"These boys, they're NRL players, they know how to tackle. They don't get to NRL level not knowing how to tackle so it's an attitude thing, it's a bit of belief too," he said.
"We've taken a couple of years to try and work hard and we've added some quality players that came with a bit of toughness – Beau Scott [on Monday] and last week, just his defence, if you're defending inside or outside him you just know he's going to make his tackles and you just know he's going to keep turning up.
"We've brought in blokes like that to help us but these young boys have been working hard for the last couple of years and it's been gradual for them in terms of a couple of extra pre-seasons and getting a little bit fitter and being a bit more physical."
Captain Kieran Foran handed himself partial blame for a lack of overall fluency in attack due to missing some training sessions through injury but echoed Arthur's praise for the team's work off the ball.
"The attack's going to take time, it wasn't at its best [on Monday] but if we keep defending like that we're going to give ourselves every opportunity of staying in the contest."
The Eels probably would have scored a fair few more points were it not for a pair of incredible try-savers from Tigers fullback James Tedesco, though it was a Foran short ball to rampaging prop Junior Paulo that led to the only try of the match.
Foran said his own absences from ball sessions may have contributed to an early lack of cohesion.
"We haven't really trained together as much - I'm a bit to blame for that, I've been in and out of training with my hamstring and we probably haven't had as many field sessions as we would have liked together so that could be a reason," he said.
"We were probably a little bit down on energy today as well. [It's been a] tough start to the year, we were probably a little bit flat and that probably showed a bit in our set pieces."