Eels halfback Corey Norman in action against the Sea Eagles in Round 1 of the Telstra Premiership.

Eels players are refusing to use Corey Norman's absence as an excuse for their disappointing 26-14 loss to a patched-up Gold Coast side last Friday night. 

Parramatta headed into the game as warm favourites to continue their unbeaten start to the year against a Titans team that was searching for their first win of 2016, and things were going to script when they raced out to a 12-0 lead inside the opening 20 minutes. 

Whether it was complacency or divine intervention, the Eels were only able to add a penalty goal as the Titans finished over the top of them with four unanswered tries to run out comfortable winners. 

Star playmaker Norman missed the match with a hamstring strain, but halves partner Clint Gutherson said that wasn't the reason they lost.

According to the Eels five-eighth, the blue and golds let themselves down with poor handling at key times, with Parramatta completing just 74 per cent of their sets; well down from what they were able to produce in previous weeks. 

"'Normy' is a freak so he's going to add what he adds to any team. It wasn't an excuse to lose up there; it's just one player so you can't rely on him all the time," Gutherson said. 

"It'll be good to have him back on Saturday.

"I think we just gave them too much easy ball – cheap ball – and we didn't stick to the game plan. Any team in the competition is going to do that to you if you give them the ball in the right spot. 

"It was pretty disappointing to not win up there on the Gold Coast, but we've looked at that and reviewed that and we've moved on. We move on pretty quickly here and we're looking to bounce back on Saturday night against the premiers. It should be a good game."

 

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For co-captain Tim Mannah, the solution is simple: get back to what worked well in the first two rounds and the results will quickly change for the better. 

"He (Norman) is definitely our leader out there in terms of steering us around the park and guiding our game management," Mannah said on Wednesday afternoon. 

"But I thought across the park, all 17 of us on Friday night wouldn't have been happy with our performances. All of us did things that were out of character. 

"Last week we got to 12-0 and we probably thought the night was going to be easier than it was. 

"The disappointing thing is that we went away from what was working for us. It worked in the first two games and it worked in the first 15 minutes of that game, but we went away for it. 

"For us, it's about getting back to the basics, getting back to the simple things that work for us and doing them well."