Eels v Titans: Five key points
Parramatta bagged their second straight win while the Titans fluffed a chance to cement a top eight spot, going down 22-12 in a three-tries-apiece affair in Darwin.
Completions aren't everything – but they help
The Eels completed 19 of 21 sets in the first half while the Titans recovered from just seven of their first 14 to finish with a 64 per cent rate having completed 25 of 39 sets.
It wasn't the only reason the Titans lost but they made life hard for themselves.
"Ultimately when they're completing around 84 per cent and we're just over 50, it’s a simple game sometimes, you've just got to hold the ball," Titans coach Neil Henry lamented after the game.
"It was a good start, maybe it was too good a start really. I think anyone watching the game [could tell], it's pretty simple, they held the ball and we didn’t."
Pritchard steps up in Peats's absence
He may not quite be Nathan Peats but Kaysa Pritchard showed plenty of spark on Saturday night and wasn't far off being the best player on the field.
He found himself on report for a huge shot that rocked Titans fullback Will Zillman that was a touch too high but there was plenty of intent about everything Pritchard did.
He nabbed a nice supporting try running off Corey Norman and had some good darts from dummy-half.
He only played 35 minutes, coming on for Isaac De Gois in the 31st minute and being replaced by the same player in the 65th but in that time racked up 58 metres, 22 tackles, an offload and a line-break assist.
Peats for his part was relatively quiet against his old mates, being denied a try from dummy-half by a lost ball. He actually had similar numbers with 73 metres and 22 tackles from almost 20 more minutes on field than Pritchard.
A comedown for breakout star Taylor
Boom Titans rookie Ashley Taylor is in the conversation for rookie of the year, buy of the year and on current form will be in the conversation for halfback of the year – but Round 14 in Darwin won't be on his end of year highlight reels.
As almost has to be the case for a teenager playing in the halves in the pressure cooker of week-to-week NRL football, there are going to be a few down games to go with the match-winning efforts. Taylor has more of the latter than most would have expected at this early stage of his career and no doubt will have many more.
But a general play kick that sailed out on the full in the 36th minute – right after the Titans has conceded the lead for the first time in the game – was very untimely and an attempted goal-line drop-out in the 48th that also landed well outside the field of play handed the Eels a free two points.
Taylor was handed goal kicking duties early after Tyrone Roberts shanked his first effort but did not prove to be an upgrade with two wonky efforts meaning the team failed to kick a goal from three attempts – crucial in a match where the tries scored were three each.
To his credit he did throw a wonderful pass for his team's first try and helped set up the second and will no doubt have more good days than bad as his career evolves.
Part of the learning experience for rookie French
Enough time has elapsed since Bevan French broke the Auckland Nines try-scoring record for the buzz to simmer down but he backed up his debut try with another in his second game – despite having bombed one just minutes earlier.
Arthur said the 20-year-old would learn from the experience after displaying the good and bad of what comes with a prodigious young talent barely moments apart.
"His attitude's great; he's a good kid he's working really hard and probably learned a couple of lessons tonight as well," Arthur said.
"We were a bit frantic early in the piece attacking the try-line but when he got the ball and ran that’s what he's really good at. We played a lot straighter and more direct and things started to work for us."
Darwin footy a hit with locals
To see over seven thousand turn out to an NRL game in a town not known for its rugby league fanaticism is a justification of Parramatta's partnership with the Territorian port city and after the game Eels coach Brad Arthur praised the locals for their support and hospitality.
"We've seen a good crowd there tonight," he said.
"Hopefully we get some young kids here tonight who want to play in that arena. [If we] get a few kids who want to play the game at that level it's done its job."
Added skipper Beau Scott: "I've met a fair few people over here who've got all their kids playing over here and really give us a good following. I've really enjoyed meeting a few people and the experience of Darwin."