Moses's focus on defensive game
Mitchell Moses silenced some critics on Friday night with a match-winning field goal in Parramatta's 13-12 win over the Bulldogs, but it was his defensive game that was on the improve.
Since joining the Eels, the 22-year-old has averaged five missed tackles per game with the opposition targeting the new recruit on the defensive edges.
Moses put up a stronger showing in the win over Canterbury missing just the two tackles and overall believes he will get better towards the backend of the season.
Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has since moved former NSW centre Michael Jennings to the right edge with Brad Takairangi defending on the left – a shift that has helped combat the Eels' leakage of points against the Cowboys in Darwin.
"It was more so me just getting used to the defensive structures that are here," Moses said on Wednesday.
"They are a lot different to what are at the Tigers but I am really comfortable now and it is all gelling.
"Having a class player like 'Jenko' (Jennings) outside me, and Kenny [Edwards] inside, it definitely helps a lot defensively. Jenko has been around a long time so he is always talking and telling me where I need to be."
The Eels are in a healthy position on the Telstra Premiership ladder with a four-point gap between eighth and ninth spot with a bye up their sleeve next week, however they face a depleted Melbourne Storm side that have shown they're no easy beats despite missing six stars through State of Origin duty.
While the Storm are missing their entire spine, the forward pack will be at near full strength and edge runners Felise Kaufusi and Tohu Harris remain a constant threat.
"Any time those players are out of their team, you have to take advantage of it. They are a class side, but in the Origin period they have showed enough class to get away with wins without their players," Moses said.
"We won't be taking it as an easy game at all. It will be a tough game especially going down to Melbourne. It’s always a tough trip down there."
It has been documented the Eels have their best chance to cement their first finals birth since 2009 and Moses was realistic of the situation – indicating the control was in their hands as to how far are to go.
"This game will really put us in good stead to try and have a push towards the semi-finals," Moses said.
"If we win this game going into the bye, we have the Tigers the week after, and a few other teams that are below us, so if we can get a few wins there and cement our spot in the eight, it will really help."
Such is the tightness of the Telstra Premiership ladder, teams that are willing to string some victories together can see a quick rise into the top four, with teams split by just four competition points, while consecutive losses can see them back out of the top eight.
"This game is massive. I think we are two points away from second so the competition is pretty tight but we need this win heading into the bye," Moses said.
"A four-point game for us so it's very important."
The Eels fell away in the second half against Canterbury and were guilty of a poor completion rate and error count.
"It was a tough one. Take nothing away from the Bulldogs, they played pretty good in that second half, their defence was outstanding and we were finding it hard to come off our line," Moses said.
"We just tried to stick to our structures, but we made too many errors coming out of that second half. That first set of six in defence, they went 80 metres and that kind of set the tone for our half.
"But it was pretty special to get away with that win in a tight game, and we need them leading into the semi-finals if we are to make it.
"The boys have made my job easy coming in, they have made me feel welcome and I have really slotted in pretty well. I guess I took control in the end and I wanted to kick that field goal."