Arthur tips Eels improvement after tough win
Eels coach Brad Arthur is pleased his team ground out a win to start their season but has cautioned his new combinations will take time to start to click properly.
An opening round 20-12 win over Manly at their home ground is a pretty good way to start a season for any NRL club but if you've been paying any attention to Arthur in his time at the club you won't be surprised that he isn't exactly getting carried away just yet.
The Eels triumphed by just three tries to two despite a 60-40 weight of possession in their favour and at one stage had nine straight possessions (including forcing four back-to-back goal line drop-outs) without scoring anything more than a penalty goal.
"I thought both teams went at it and I reckon we probably need to give a bit of credit to Manly, they drew a fair bit of pressure on the try-line there in the second half but I was really happy that we showed a bit of patience," Arthur said after the game.
He also noted that the new playmaking spine of halfback Corey Norman, five-eighth Clint Gutherson, hooker Kaysa Pritchard and fullback Bevan French were playing their first game together as a combination having not even so much as trialled together yet.
"We went into this game a little bit underdone. We didn't play a lot of minutes throughout the trials with a lot of our key players," he said.
"Corey Norman and 'Gutho' haven't played together; Normy hasn't played since Round 18 so we've got a lot to work on but just to complete at 82 per cent and turn up defensively and grind out a win was pleasing.
"They had a lot of training pre-season with them together but then after Christmas we only had a couple of weeks then some of them are getting ready to play Nines, some of them are getting ready to play in a trial in Alice Springs so their preparation wasn't great but they're going to get better.
"It will be a little bit better next week. It's going to take time but we're going to persist with it and Corey Norman hasn't got any match fitness at the moment so he was seeing things and he just couldn't get there."