Eels back on track after thumping Titans
Parramatta's finals charge is back on track after last week's hiccup against Newcastle after they easily disposed of an unimpressive but injury-wrecked Titans 30-8 at ANZ Stadium on Thursday night.
In a match that never reached any great heights the Eels rarely looked like conceding points, taking a 12-0 lead to the break, and it took seven consecutive Gold Coast sets mid-way through the second half for the Titans to finally get on the board.
The win returns the Eels – at least temporarily – to the top four but it wasn't all good news with fullback Bevan French leaving the field in the first half after suffering a recurrence of his hamstring injury and five-eighth Corey Norman leaving the field late with a groin issue.
The Titans' injury woes were worse though. Following the mid-week withdrawal of fullback Jarryd Hayne (ankle), coach Neil Henry also saw prop Jarrod Wallace (knee) and lock Max King scratched pre-game and a shocking elbow dislocation ended centre John Olive's night inside the opening 10 minutes.
Despite the Titans finishing with 58 per cent of possession for the match on the back of a mountain of second-half ball, the Eels' line was rarely troubled and bench utility Will Smith's second-half double filling in for French iced the convincing win.
Back-rower Tepai Moeroa ran a nice line off a Mitch Moses pass to open the scoring in the 11th minute and Dan Alvaro crashed onto a Cam King flat ball out of dummy half to make it 12-0 after 25 minutes in the only scoring plays of the first half.
A beautiful Moses pass early in the second half put winger Kirisome Auva'a into space before his wild pass butchered a four-on-one situation.
It mattered little as Smith shrugged his way through half the Titans team to score his first try of the game in the 45th and there was more than a hint of controversy in Semi Radradra's length-of-the-field 54th-minute try with the Bunker finding insufficient evidence of a knock on in the lead-up.
From there the Eels hardly touched the ball other than to fumble a last-play kick or attempted intercept as the Titans helped themselves to seven straight sets that culminated in debutant prop Ben Nakubuwai pushing over from close range.
A second Radradra long-range effort was denied – this time with the Bunker overturning an on-field call due to a knock on – while Michael Jennings also had a spectacular in-goal mark denied due to a knock on.
Some nice Tyrone Roberts work put Will Zillman over for a late consolation try before some brilliant work from Moses helped Smith to his second right on full-time to ice the 30-8 win.
Parramatta Eels 30 (Smith 2, Moeroa, Alvaro, Radradra tries; Moses 5 goals) defeated Gold Coast Titans 8 (Nakubuwai, Zillman tries) at ANZ Stadium. Half-time: Eels 12-0. Crowd: 6,826.
Unofficial NRL.com votes: Mitchell Moses 3 votes, Daniel Alvaro 2 votes, Nathan Brown 1 vote.