Moses stars as Eels thrash Sea Eagles
Parramatta's first win in seven months has compounded a horror week for Manly, a club that showed more fight on the training paddock than they did during an insipid 44-10 loss at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
The Eels enjoyed their first victory after eight straight losses going back to September last season, though Jarryd Hayne's blues continue with an aggravated hip flexor injury cutting short his injury comeback after just half an hour.
Under fire No.7 Mitchell Moses stole the show with three try-assists, two forced drop-outs and 16 points off the kicking tee.
Opposite number Daly Cherry-Evans finished with four penalties and three errors to go with the $10,000 club fine dished out for his altercation with Jackson Hastings.
The comparison was just as telling as the pre-game chatter – Parramatta spent the week talking up their fiery training sessions, the Sea Eagles trying to play theirs down.
Not to mention the changes adopted by Brad Arthur – Beau Scott and Kane Evans were dropped in response to a winless campaign to date, while Trent Barrett had few options outside the same 17 that has now leaked 14 tries in its last three hours of football.
For Arthur, the effort has been there from Moses for much of his side's struggles. On Sunday, it worked.
"(Moses) has been trying very hard and it worked for him today," Arthur said.
Match: Eels vs Sea Eagles
Venue: ANZ Stadium
- Fox League
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"He showed a good level of composure and patience, as both halves did. They've been trying hard, it just hasn't been working."
And of those fire and brimstone training sessions Eels players were all too keen to spruik during the week? Again, it just worked.
"It was halfway through our main session and something just clicked," Arthur said.
"They had a gut full of each other and just ripped in. We had some staff that wanted to pull it up because it was getting very competitive but it was exactly what we needed and we need to make sure we keep it."
A non-contest from the outset started and finished in the same fashion.
Having set up shop in Manly's 20-metre zone for the opening 10 minutes, Parramatta wound up short-changed with just the one penalty goal to show for their glut of early possession.
Cherry-Evans put it on a platter for them throughout, sending one kick-off long and another clearing effort into the back of a teammate before a rare 40-20 diamond to redeem those early rocks.
He backed it up with a pass to send Brian Kelly through as well, only for obstruction to be ruled against Joel Thompson and the first points denied.
Hot potato passing at the other end and a 20-metre sideways run by Moses provided those, with Manu Ma'u on the end of an overlap after Parramatta's initial fifth-tackle play broke down.
Hayne's first game on the wing in a decade lasted only 30 minutes and six touches before he made for the sheds with the same hip injury that had kept him on ice for a month.
With Hayne absent on the left flank, Moses again found fruit down the right, his cut-out pass hitting George Jennings' in the bread basket for a 14-0 lead.
By the break that was 20-0 after Kaysa Pritchard breezed past an offside Jake Trbojevic and a back-pedalling defence from dummy-half.
Corey Norman added to it just seven minutes into the second stanza, strolling past Jack Gosiewski from short range as Cherry-Evans watched on helplessly at the defence on his inside.
When Moses chipped on the third for Michael Jennings to dot down with their fifth, a Blue and Gold whitewash beckoned.
Manly put paid to that through Brad Parker with 20 minutes to go, while Kenny Edwards' four-pointer was answered by Akuila Uate as well.
But a brilliant surging run through by Moses through Manly's middle capped both the win and Gutherson's first outing as co-captain, the fan favourite crashing over for his first try in nine long months.