Parramatta have dragged arch rivals Canterbury into the thick of a wooden spoon stoush and their darkest days in a decade with a scrappy 14-8 victory at ANZ Stadium.
With a miserly crowd of 8,437 on hand, the Eels nabbed their first win in a month in unconvincing fashion to rise to equal footing with the Bulldogs and North Queensland on 10 competition points.
A points differential of -132 still leaves Parramatta in last place with six games to play.
Match: Eels v Bulldogs
Round 19 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium
- Nine Network
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Rookie coach Dean Pay has been lumped with salary cap strife that has seen millions of dollars in talent and fan favourites forced from Belmore.
To boot, he now finds himself in real danger of taking home the Bulldogs first wooden spoon since 2008 - the year when Sonny Bill Williams walked out the door.
Throughout this forgettable contest, the Eels executed like a team running last, bending their backs to provide plenty of chances, while never looking like knowing how to convert them.
After a bright beginning the Bulldogs joined them, frittering away their own fifth tackle plays with balls that went forward, over the sideline and anywhere but where designed.
Down by eight points with seven minutes to play, Canterbury opted to take a penalty goal.
It drew the Bulldogs to within one scoring play. But it said everything about this which is giving their everything, yet walking away with a seventh loss from their last eight outings.
They started in vastly different fashion. Canterbury's willingness to give the ball early air paid dividends after just seven minutes, Kerrod Holland on the end of a hot-potato last tackle play that featured eight passes and ended with a 6-0 lead.
Mitchell Moses took a similar lead with the Eels first raid which finally came with almost 20 minutes down.
As has been Parramatta's way so often in 2018, his desperate bat-on ended with a wildly forward pass and Michael Jennings blowing up out the back.
Eventually the Eels warmed to their task, and only a top notch try-saving tackle from Josh Jackson denied Kaysa Pritchard scurrying over from dummy-half.
An ill-fated foray from the same position by Jarryd Hayne the very next play killed Parramatta off quick smart.
A Brett Morris sin-binning for holding back Bevan French from chasing a kick, gave the Eels another sniff. And another ludicrous forward pass from Pritchard snuffed it out within seconds.
Canterbury's 12-man defence finally wilted, with Corey Norman piloting Tepai Moeroa through from halfway and that man again Pritchard sliding out of a cover tackle for Parramatta's first points.
Out the other side of a 6-6 halftime deadlock, Hayne created a repeat set with a devil of a dribbling grubber that pinned the Bulldogs in their own in-goal.
Once more though the chance was squandered, George Jennings bundled into touch after a cut-out pass left him with nowhere else to go.
Moses slithered another grubber into the in-goal, with Brad Takairangi this time unable to ground the ball cleanly.
Doing it all himself at the other end of the paddock, Moses then snaffled a ricocheting kick from Lachlan Lewis to go 90 metres and take Parramatta to a 12-6 lead.
For the next 27 minutes both teams had a crack, but walked away with just a penalty goal each added to the scoreboard.
News & Notes: Bulldogs forward Clay Priest hyper-extended his left elbow in the 47th minute and didn't return... it was the Bulldogs' fourth-straight loss at ANZ Stadium for the first time since 2010... Parramatta's Nathan Brown finished with 26 runs for 252 metres and 40 tackles... After throwing seven offloads in the first 13 minutes, the Bulldogs only managed another three in the next 67... Parramatta take on premiership front-runners South Sydney next week, while the Bulldogs host Wests Tigers and former teammate Moses Mbye ...Crowd: 8,437.