Eels v Titans: Five key points

Eels v Titans: Five key points

Parra power reigns supreme, no reprieve in Titans' week from hell, Eels defence shows finals-like resilience and Will Smith shows some star power of his own.

Parra power too much for Titans

It's been a strength of their game all season and with a relatively inexperienced Titans forward pack opposite them the Eels' big men powered their team to a convincing 30-8 win.

Whether it was Tepai Moeroa or Daniel Alvaro barging over the try-line in the first half, Manu Ma'u running riot on the edge or Nathan Brown powering his way forward through the middle of the field Parramatta had the Titans on the back foot for the majority of the game.

It was a similar story in defence where the physicality of the Eels defence and its speed off the line forced the Titans' playmakers to rush their set plays and regularly come up with errors.

The Titans had plenty of shots at the Eels' defence in the second half but had little success in breaking it, Parramatta's strong men dominating the ruck area.

French hamstring a problem for Parra

The exhibition of speed that came with his first touch would have been a relieving sight for Eels fans but Bevan French's inability to complete the first half will have the blue and gold faithful anxious about the weeks to come.

The 30-8 win catapulted Parramatta back into the top four but with games against the Broncos and Rabbitohs to come before finals time the management of French and his troublesome right hamstring will be a careful juggling act for coach Brad Arthur.

With Clint Gutherson already out for the season the Eels will need French at full flight in September and may need to consider resting him for the final two games to ensure he is 100 per cent fit, a gamble that could cost them a top four finish.

No reprieve in Titans' week from hell

Given the week they'd had and with Jarryd Hayne not making the trip to face his former club, all Titans players wanted was to look for something positive on the field; it lasted eight minutes before centre John Olive suffered a dislocated elbow and it got worse from there.

Five minutes after Olive's departure the reshuffled backline had to shuffle again when winger Anthony Don suffered a nasty cut to the inside of his mouth and for the fourth week in succession they failed to score a point in the first 40 minutes.

The only bright spot for the night was the impressive debut of prop forward Ben Nakubuwai who powered over for his side's first try 18 minutes from full-time.

They stayed in the fight despite copping some tough calls but for the third week in succession were physically no match for their opposition and now all attention will turn to what action the club's board will take, if any, in determining the way forward.

Eels defence shows finals-like quality

Granted they weren't defending against a finals-like attack but an Eels outfit that lost their fullback in the first half showed the energy and physicality that should serve them well in September.

Their 'up and in' defence shut down all attempts by the Titans to play wide on sweep plays and the resilience of their goal-line defence turned the visitors away time after time.

Parramatta had 32 per cent of the ball in the second half, completed at just 60 per cent and most of the time were stuck defending their goal-line and only gave away two tries, making 176 tackles in the second term compared to Gold Coast's 91.

It might not have been pretty for large parts but it gives Brad Arthur a nice base from which to build from in the coming weeks.

Mr Smith goes to town

He first popped up as a young talent in Newcastle, went to Penrith to chase his NRL dream and Will Smith showed he has almost as much star power as his namesake with a scintillating try-scoring double against the Titans.

Introduced late in the first half when Bevan French's hamstring kept giving him problems, Smith came on at fullback and produced some dazzling footwork to score two tries in the second half.

The 25-year-old showed great strength to push through five Titans defenders to score in the 45th minute but the best came right on full-time when a sublime no-look inside pass from Mitchell Moses gave him some space close to the Titans' try-line, and he stepped past Tyrone Roberts and pushed through attempts at tackles from Kane Elgey, Will Zillman and Nathan Peats.

Given his ability to play in the halves, at fullback or dummy-half, Smith shapes as an interchange trump card as the Eels plan their finals assault.