Sea Eagles v Eels: Five Key Points
An unbelievably intense clash between two old rivals out at Brookvale Oval saw a match absolutely in the balance for 75 minutes, until Parramatta finally pulled away at the end. Here are five talking points from the Eels' 22-10 win.
More no-try calls earn ire of coaches and players
One thing this clash wasn't short of was disallowed tries. Some were straightforward while others were very much 50-50 calls. Brett Stewart, Darcy Lussick and Michael Jennings each lost tries after video referrals either revealed or confirmed the players hadn't managed to ground the ball cleanly.
A no-try decision to Corey Norman after Semi Radradra ran behind Norman in the lead-up may not have featured any impediment to the defence but Eels coach Brad Arthur wasn't upset with the ruling.
"Semi did run behind him. That's the rule but I don't think the defender was impeded but if it's black and white he did run behind him," Arthur said.
A decision from the bunker to stay with an on-field no-try ruling that Brad Takairangi had been offside from Norman's grubber drew the ire of both the Channel Nine commentators – who felt the chaser had been onside – as well as the Parramatta camp, with Arthur stating he thought Takairangi had been onside.
"I questioned the refs about it, I thought one of his feet was behind but he explained to me that both feet have to be behind the kicker so I was unsure of the rule there," Foran said of the incident.
Beau Scott's chase highlights Eels efforts
There are few things in rugby league that elicit unbridled joy from rugby league purists the way a hard-working forward chasing down a try-bound outside back and saving a try does.
We got to see it on Thursday though as pacey Manly winger Tom Trbojevic scooped up a loose ball in space in the 28th minute with the Eels camped on the attack. Semi Radradra turned to give chase and was doing just well enough to steer the lanky Mona Vale junior back infield.
It provided just enough of an angle for the determined 31-year-old Blues hardman to gallop across and drag down his man, saving a certain try and jolting the ball free for the Eels to regain possession in the process.
Arthur wasn't getting carried away with the effort after the game, instead preferring to credit what was again a great whole-of-team commitment over 80 minutes.
"That's a huge play but even last year our effort was really good," Arthur said.
"It was a very mentally tough effort. Our effort for seven weeks now has been very good but I thought they probably played with a bit more energy and out enthused us. They came at us hard, carried the ball harder and got off their line harder than us.
"We just hung in there… There's a bit of confidence at the moment among the boys defending their try line. Four of five sets again on our try line they just kept turning up for each other. So while our effort was good we didn't have the energy at times when we probably needed to."
Manly hit by injuries before and during the game
Manly lost hooker Matt Parcell before the match to a hamstring strain and prop Brenton Lawrence to a hip complaint, joining halfback Daly Cherry-Evans on the sideline. It meant their so-called spine featured a hooker (Api Koroisau) filling in at halfback and a utility forward (Lewis Brown) playing dummy half, as well as a centre-turned-five-eighth in Dylan Walker still learning his craft.
To make matters worse they lost winger Jorge Taufua to a suspected broken collarbone with around 20 minutes to play.
After the game coach Trent Barrett said he was hopeful Cherry-Evans would miss just one more game while Parcell's total lay-off would hopefully only be a game or two.
"He looks like he's got a broken collarbone I think," Barrett said of Taufua.
"He'll get scans [Friday] but he's not looking great… We don't play until Monday now thankfully so we've got a bit of a break. We've got to go to Newcastle and that's going to be a big game for us.
"Hopefully we can get Cherry back in the next few weeks but Api's done a terrific job over the last three or four weeks without him."
The Eels didn't escape unscathed, with lock Tepai Moeroa's night finishing after 30 minutes due to a shin injury.
"It was his shinbone so I don't really know. He got a bump there. I'm not sure if it's just bone bruising," Arthur said after the game.
A double try for a double ton earns Jennings high praise
While the two tries were the icing on the cake, it is Jennings' professionalism and influence on the younger squad members that has most impressed his coach in his time at Parramatta.
Jennings was typically understated of his own two-try effort, noting: "It's something I'll remember. It's just good to get the two points and a bonus to get two tries. I'm just happy to get 200 games."
However his coach was more forthcoming on the value Jennings has brought to the team.
"It's a great achievement [to play 200 games] and I feel privileged and the team feels privileged and lucky that he's actually played his 200th game for us," Arthur said.
"I know he's only seven games into his career here but he's a calming influence on the players. For a centre he defends really well, his contact is nice and solid, he's committed to trying to help these boys improve as football players. We've got a lot of young players, he's really worked hard with some of those boys off the field."
Uncharacteristic errors prove costly for Manly
While this Manly outfit is very much a new-look line-up, there is something very Manly about the resilience and determination they've shown over the past month.
What was less like them was failing to clean up three kicks at their own line that helped the Eels to three tries (and that's not even mentioning how uncharacteristic it was to see the Prince of Brookvale, fail to add to his stunning home ground try-scoring record due to failing to ground a ball cleanly).
The first came against an admittedly scattered defensive line following a break when Dylan Walker couldn't clean up Corey Norman's cross-field kick for Brad Takairangi to score. The next came from a lead-up that frankly has to be seen rather than described but finally finished when as many as three Manly players failed to clean up Isaac De Gois's grubber for Jennings to score while Jennings was again the beneficiary when Stewart couldn't reel in Corey Norman's kick to the corner under admittedly high pressure from Radradra.
"There's 18 points [we could have saved], you just can't do that," Barrett said, noting a few other small areas for concern that were also easily fixed.
"We were in the position to stop them which is encouraging and we're defending quite well. There were a couple of little things on our edges but they're easily fixed. We were right in the contest, when we click we can turn those score-lines favourably in our way and I don't think that's too far away but we've got a little bit of work to do It's still only early but it's something we need to sort out," he added.