Eels v Warriors: Five key points

Eels v Warriors: Five key points

Eels effort too much for Warriors, the beautiful brutality of Nathan Brown, injury toll fails to halt Parramatta's charge and Shaun Johnson's failings sum up what's wrong with the Warriors.

Hard work beats talent when talent won't work hard

From the opening moments it was obvious that the Eels were playing with a purpose whereas the Warriors simply hoped to find a way to get it done.

Every charge by a Parramatta forward put the Warriors on the back foot yet when they had the ball the visitors barely bent the line save for some darts from dummy half from hooker Issac Luke.

A look at the teams on paper suggested the Eels would struggle to keep pace but the only qualities that can't be quantified on a stats sheet – energy and effort – were dominated by the home side.

This is the time of year that the Warriors usually make their mid-season surge but despite a roster that is the envy of the competition it may never eventuate in 2017.

The beautiful brutality of Nathan Brown

A try assist, a massive number of metres and bone-rattling tackles; few players in the Telstra Premiership can impact a game in the way Nathan Brown can.

The Eels lock forward laid on the first try for Kirisome Auva'a with a wonderful cut-out pass, showed deft hands in the lead-up to the Eels' second try, popped an offload for Tepai Moeroa's second-half try and tore into the Warriors defence with every one of his 18 carries.

Since his move in the off-season from South Sydney he has quickly become a cult hero amongst Parramatta fans and he gave them plenty of reasons to love him even more on Friday night.

When will Clint Gutherson get his due?

There's not a position in the Eels team where Clint Gutherson is the first choice option but it's becoming increasingly obvious that Parramatta function best when Gutherson is heavily involved.

Starting alongside Mitchell Moses in the halves, Gutherson ran a brave line to create the space for Parramatta's first try and then it was his long break from dummy half that gave the Eels the field position from which Josh Hoffman scored after 10 minutes.

It was the 22-year-old's quick thinking that enabled Semi Radradra to break the 12-all deadlock late in the first half and his fast feet gave him just enough room to squeeze over for the match-winner in the final minute of the game.

He won't be a first-choice half when Corey Norman returns which gives coach Brad Arthur the conundrum of whether to shift him to fullback and move the dangerous Bevan French back to the wing.

Either way he's far too good not to be getting his hands on the football as often as possible.

Injury toll can't deny brave Eels

Starting the game without Tim Mannah, Corey Norman and Michael Jennings, Parramatta lost Kaysa Pritchard (concussion) after nine minutes and Josh Hoffman (knee) after 30 and by the end of the game Brad Arthur had very little company on the bench on the sideline.

David Gower had to receive attention for a dislocated finger but it never seemed to dent their energy as the likes of Beau Scott, Kenny Edwards and Daniel Alvaro came off the bench to add weight to the efforts of Brown, Moeroa and Manu Ma'u.

We saw the spirit of this Eels team when they had nothing to play for last year and after a four-game losing run early in the season it appears they have rediscovered it in spades.

How long can we forgive Shaun Johnson's shortcomings?

He's brilliant; the face of rugby league in New Zealand, but so many of Shaun Johnson's failings permeate their way through the entire Warriors team.

As his side's halfback when they attack well Johnson is invariably involved but his inability to adequately finish off attacking sets to build pressure on the opposition prevents the Warriors from graduating from a talented team into a consistent one.

With his team about to put their foot on the throats of the Eels, Johnson's awful kick running sideways on the last tackle not only handed over possession to Parramatta but saw Semi Radradra race 80 metres to score and swing momentum back their way.

The start of the second half was no better with a kick out on the full from their first use of the football and then with their next possession he went to Blake Ayshford on the last tackle who put in the type of kick you would expect.

Johnson gave away the penalty that saw the Eels extend their lead to eight points and was part of the muddled play that saw the Warriors hand over the ball with a couple of minutes.

If he'd scored the match-winner he'd have been the hero but he's got to bear the brunt of the blame for the loss.