Stuart: We won't blow teams away any more
Heading into half-time with a 16-point lead the Raiders looked ready to unleash yet another point-scoring spree but coach Ricky Stuart says those expecting big scorelines from his team each week are living in the past.
Last year the Raiders scored more than 50 points on three separate occasions and after smashing the Wests Tigers by 40 points a fortnight ago the thirst for points seems as strong as ever but Stuart is adamant his side will have taken more out of overcoming a second half Parramatta fightback than racking up another hefty scoreline.
After conceding three tries in the space of seven minutes late in the first half the Eels hit back with two of their own to draw to within four midway through the second half before a brilliant individual effort from rookie Raiders winger Nick Cotric sealed the result for the home side.
The Raiders scored more than a hundred more points than any other team in the Telstra Premiership last year but Stuart says the expectation of similarly high scores in 2017 is a misguided one.
"We won't win as many games by the amount of points as we did last year. Teams are ready for us now," Stuart said after his side's second win of the season.
"We surprised a few people [last year], we surprised a few people who didn't even play the game, we surprised a lot of our opposition, the only people we didn't surprise was us.
"If I want to be the same football team as last year I'm kidding myself. We have to get better, we have to improve, we need to improve in certain areas.
"I know we can attack but there are other areas of our game we need to improve now but coming out and blowing teams away is not even in my thoughts in regards to how to win a game of football."
While the crowd of 17,653 may have been expecting a rampant Raiders team to emerge in the second half, Stuart took great delight in seeing how his players weathered the Parramatta storm before securing the two competition points.
"That second half was probably best for us, to have that type of football," said Stuart.
"We've had close games all the way through, we didn't need to have another game where we blew the Tigers off the park. We needed a tough grinding game and Parramatta gave us that in the second half.
"What I look at is the courage we showed to hang on and we spoke about that if we had some adversity the second half we had to hang tough.
"We hung tough, then we got a little bit of football, turned the possession around and we scored tries."
The win was also a fitting result for captain Jarrod Croker who was able to celebrate his milestone of scoring his 100th try in the NRL by singing the team song after full-time.
In reaching his century of four-pointers Croker joined Ryan Girdler, Hazem El Masri, Jamie Lyon and Luke Burt as the only players to have scored 100 tries and kicked 500 goals yet like Burt is yet to play for his state or country.
Despite his achievements Croker appears destined to be overlooked for higher honours but his club coach had the highest of praise for the 26-year-old.
"The most important thing is that Jarrod knows what I think about him as a centre," said Stuart.
"He's a very humble guy, he doesn't get the accolades and the raps that he deserves but he gets them from me.
"Jarrod's more of a mate of mine than a guy I'm coaching.
"He knows what respect I've got for him."