Young Panthers learn tough lessons
After another dour loss – their fourth straight – Penrith now sit on just two wins from eight games but their coach Anthony Griffin says as a young team they're still learning how to play together and they will learn from the current tough lessons they are getting.
With last-year's five-eighth Bryce Cartwright back from an ankle injury in place of Te Maire Martin (neck), the Panthers didn't look any more threatening with a host of attacking chances against the Eels than they did with a glut of early possession against the Sharks last week.
The two tries they eventually scored against a tired Eels defensive line came more via defensive mistakes than attacking execution and they had enough second-half ball to score more than their eventual 12 points.
"Our attack is still developing. We've had a lot of key changes there but our attack is still obviously developing," Griffin said after the game.
"We're a fairly young side and we're learning some tough lessons at the moment.
"We'll be better in the future, when that is I can't guarantee that but hopefully it is next week. In the whole scheme of things we're learning some tough lessons at the moment. We'll be better for that next week and the week after."
The team was better "in patches" against Parramatta compared to last week's 28-2 loss at Cronulla, Griffin added, while ruing a gift six points handed to the Eels at the start of the game after fluffing the kick off.
"We were a lot simpler, we grafted a lot better and got ourselves some field position. The way we started the game [on Saturday] was similar last week against the Sharks, they didn't beat us defensively with our technique or the way we moved, it's the free six points we're handing up all the time," he said.
"At half-time we'd had no ball through our own doing. That first six points, they didn't have to earn that which in a tight game really hurts you.
"They were too good with the kick to Radradra (for a try late in the first half) but they'd had 22 sets to our 13 at half-time so we were struggling but we were hanging in there... it was a really tight game of footy and we leaked that one straight after half time which turned into a real score-line that we had to chase."
The Panthers now need a likely 10 wins from 14 remaining games to have a hope of featuring in finals footy this year but Griffin said his team couldn't afford to look more than one week ahead.
"We've got to stay in the moment and worry about next week. We'd rather be four and four or something like that than two and six so we've got some work to do but that second half will give us something to work off going into next week," he said.
Skipper Matt Moylan admitted surprise at how poorly the team had started the season but hoped Saturday's second half comeback might spark something.
"We've still got a lot of confidence. We played a decent brand of footy in the second half and it's something to build off, we'll have to keep building off that," Moylan said.
"Every game's important for us at the moment to get the two points and get our season back in track is the main thing going into next week."
Griffin was hopeful back-rower James Fisher-Harris would return from a shoulder injury to face Brisbane next week, indicated the 21-year-old Kiwi would make the trip up north.
He was more noncommittal on five-eighth Te Maire Martin, with Cartwright an option to remain an five-eighth particularly with rookie Corey Harawira-Naera playing so well in the back row.