Eels forward David Gower in action against Wests Tigers in Round 4 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.

Eels keen to tackle problems in attack

They've been the defensive benchmark of the NRL Telstra Premiership, now the Parramatta Eels want their attack to follow. 

Attack had traditionally outweighed defence over the years at Parramatta, but that trend has well and truly been reversed this year. 

The blue and gold finished 2014 and 2015 with the 4th worst defence in the competition, but a lot has changed since then.

The Eels have conceded just 39 points in 2016 against attacking powerhouses the Cowboys, Broncos, Wests Tigers and Bulldogs to rank number one in points allowed four rounds into the new NRL season. 

Eels forward David Gower says the early season success wasn't a fluke, instead paying tribute to the side's commitment to the cause since coach Brad Arthur joined the club.  

"There's been a lot of hard work done in the off-season. We were big on competing and maintaining our discipline throughout the 80 minutes," Gower said. 

"It's been two years in the making. We've learnt some tough lessons over the last couple of seasons where we've just been in and out of games, but hopefully those lessons have been learnt and we now know how to stay in the game for 80 minutes and continue to compete at a high level."

While their defence has been downright dominant, the Eels' attack has been somewhat sputtering, averaging just 13 points per game throughout the opening month of the season. 

Gower says it will take time for Parramatta's new look spine to gel properly, but is confident their defence will more than make up for it in the meantime. 

"We've had to be great defensively because offensively we haven't been crash hot. We're not completing well enough and our attack isn't quite flowing as nicely as we'd like it to," he said. 

"Offensively we're confident the longer the season goes and the weeks start to tick by, Kieran [Foran] and 'Normy' [Corey Norman] are going to get a better combination and everyone's going to know their roles and it's going to get a lot smoother for us."

 

 

Gower is fully aware that he and his teammates will need to maintain that disciplined line on Sunday afternoon in what is shaping as a crucial local derby at Pirtek Stadium. 

Penrith's unique ad lib style of attack will be tough to contain, and according to Gower, the key will be limiting their second-phase footy. 

"Battle of the west, there's always a little bit extra in it and if we can get 25,000 Parramatta lunatics out there it will be fantastic," the Eels forward said.  

"They're going to keep us on our toes. I think they're leading the competition for offloads so far this year, and when you've got to double defend, that takes its toll on you physically, so that's why ball control this week is going to be huge. 

"We've just got to make sure we keep turning up for each other and stick to our structures and win our contacts and make sure we can minimise our offloads."

Injured Eels veteran Tim Mannah shared his teammate's sentiments about his side's attack, but was also quick to praise Parramatta's rock-solid defence. 

"I still think our attack hasn't clicked yet. I think we've got a lot more in us in attack, but our defence has been our key for the last few games. Once we start clicking in attack we'll only improve," Mannah said. 

"Our biggest focus in the off-season was our discipline. That includes all parts of our game, not just penalties, but just being able to be disciplined and stick to a game plan. 

"We've tried to keep all the defensive structures that we've been working on so hard over the summer. That's been our real focus and I think we've seen some real positive results because of that."