The Eels have bounced back from their humiliating Round 14 loss to deliver spirited 26-16 win over the Roosters — who have now suffered three straight losses.
Their intent was clear from the get go with the Eels laying on five stunning tries in a first half masterclass which included arguably the try of the year.
The Roosters kept the game alive with an impressive individual try to young gun Joseph Suaalii in the second half but it wasn’t enough.
Meanwhile, there’s doubts over the availability of two State of Origin stars after they were put on report for dangerous tackles.
There’s also injury concerns for the Roosters with brothers Nat and Egan Butcher failing HIA’s.
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FORWARDS LEAD THE WAY AS EELS BOUNCE BACK IN ‘SPECTACULAR’ FASHION
The Eels put their humiliating Round 14 loss behind them to deliver a first half masterclass against the Roosters.
Parramatta’s intent was clear as they laid on five stunning tries in the opening 40 minutes to shoot out to a 26-12 lead.
Cooper Cronk said the Eels were “playing out of their skin” and declared the their first half as “the best 40 minutes we’ve seen this year,” while Greg Alexander was in awe of the thrilling tries.
“The Eels, after trailing 6-nil… I don’t think I’ve seen a side put together so many spectacular tries,” Alexander said.
“They’re not just running across the line, there’s beautiful hands — the tries have it all.”
It all came off the back of the effort of Parramatta’s forwards. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Junior Paulo, Shaun Lane and Oregon Kaufusi all made over 100 metres, while Shaun Lane set up two tries and Isaiah Papali’I busted seven tackles.
“The Eels play good when their power game is at is tonight,” Alexander said.
“The two front rowers, you bring Niukore off the bench, Lane’s been great on the edge, as has Papali’i — they’re all used to just power down the middle third of the field.
“When they come roaring out of the back field with Sivo or Waqa Blake — those big, athletic types carrying hard – it takes a lot of pressure off Paulo and Campbell-Gillard, that they can get back and then carry hard at the back end of sets and they’ve done it,” Michael Ennis added.
Eels star halfback Mitch Moses told Fox League after the win that they wanted to “prove a point” and that’s exactly what they did.
“We weren’t too happy with how we performed last week so we wanted to come out and prove a point… we showed a lot of mental toughness to keep turning up for each other,” he said.
“It was a good hit back from last week.”
STAR TRIO’S BIG BLUES REMINDER
With the New South Wales Origin squad to be announced on Sunday night, Eels trio Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Junior Paulo and Ryan Matterson have sent a big reminder to coach Brad Fittler.
According to multiple reports, Campbell-Gillard and Matterson are under pressure to keep their spots in the 17 and the Blues’ loss in game one no doubt would make Paulo a little nervous about his position too.
All three were on a mission on Saturday night and played a huge role in the win.
“He’s had a great start,” Michael Ennis said of Paulo in the first half.
“Sometimes with Junior Paulo’s skill, at times he feels the need to use it to create opportunities and to create momentum for his outside men…
“When Paulo’s in this mood and he’s aggressive and carrying hard thinking ‘run first’ he is one of the most destructive front-rowers in the game.”
Paulo finished with a stunning career-high 228 metres off 25 runs a tackle bust an offload and 26 tackles with three misses.
Meanwhile Campbell-Gillard notched up 199 metres and Matterson finished with 118 running metres and five offloads.
“If you want to put this game to where it was won and loss, it was Paulo and RCG,” Cooper Cronk said.
“Honestly, just an outstanding performance from the turnaround of against the Bulldogs to what they produced tonight it was just a dominant performance from the starting front rowers.”
SUAALII STARS — BUT ROOSTERS FACE FAST SLIDE
Joseph Suaalii was the Roosters’ best player on Saturday and was rewarded with two tries — one of which came off an impressive individual effort – but there’s no hiding from the fact that the Roosters have now lost three straight games.
Suaalii finished the game with 119 running metres, six tackle busts, three offloads and two linebreaks to go with his two tries.
One of his four-pointers came at a crucial point in the game – at the start of the second half — when he put in a cross-field chip kick which somehow bounced perfectly for him to score.
“They needed to score first in the second half and they did through Joseph Suaalii and seemingly things like this only happen to players like Joseph Suaalii. He is special,” Greg Alexander said.
“He was probably our best,” Roosters skipper James Tedesco said after the game.
“Just those tough carries he takes every week. He runs into the teeth of the forward pack and gets us on the front foot with quick play the balls.
“To have him and ‘Toops’ (Daniel Tupou) in the back-field is really special. He’s a very skilful and talented player.”
But take Suaalii’s performance out of the frame and it might be time to be concerned.
The Roosters have now suffered three-straight losses for the first time since the middle of 2019 and are sitting ninth. It’s also the first time since 2016 that they have finished a round outside of the top eight later than Round 3 in the season.
They take on the Panthers in Penrith next week – their biggest test this season.
“Our middle defence needs to be better than it was tonight,” Tedesco said looking ahead at Round 16.
“We knew Parramatta were going to come out, especially after the way they played last week, but Penrith did that to us as well when they played us — they went through our middle.
“We’ve just got to play an 80-minute performance, we haven’t done it all year. We’ve been good in patches but just not consistent enough.”
Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Viliami Penisini 4. Waqa Blake 5. Bailey Simonsson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 15. Ryan Matterson 13. Isaiah Papali’i 12. Marata Niukore 14. Makahesi Makatoa 16. Oregon Kaufusi 21. Ky Rodwell. Replacement player: 19. Jakob Arthur
Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Billy Smith 4. Joseph Manu 5. Joseph Suaalii 6. Sam Walker 15. Drew Hutchison 8. Lindsay Collins 9. Sam Verrills 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Angus Crichton 12. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Nat Butcher 14. Connor Watson 16. Egan Butcher 17. Fletcher Baker 19. Daniel Suluka-Fifita. Replacement player: 20. Paul Momirovski
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