The Eels have come back from their humiliating loss in Round 14 to deliver a spirited 26-16 win over the Roosters – who have now suffered three consecutive losses.
Their intent was clear from the start as the Eels put in five stunning tries in a masterclass in the first half, including arguably the try of the year.
The Roosters kept the game alive with an impressive individual attempt to beat Joseph Suaalii in the second half, but it wasn’t enough.
Meanwhile, there are doubts about the availability of two State of Origin stars after they are posted on report for dangerous tackles.
There are also injuries concerns for the Roosters as brothers Nat and Egan Butcher fail HIAs.
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FORWARD LEADS THE WAY WHILE THE EEL RETURN IN ‘SPECTACULAR’ MODE
The Eels left their humiliating defeat in Round 14 behind and gave a masterclass in the first half against the Roosters.
Parramatta’s intent was clear as they made five stunning attempts in the opening 40 minutes to take a 26-12 lead.
Cooper Cronk said the Eels were “playing out of their skin” and called their first half “the best 40 minutes we’ve seen this year”, while Greg Alexander was impressed by the thrilling attempts.
“De Eels, trailing 6-nil…I don’t think I’ve seen a match make so many spectacular attempts,” said Alexander.
“They don’t just run across the line, there are beautiful hands — the tries have it all.”
It was all due to the efforts of Parramatta’s attackers. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Junior Paulo, Shaun Lane and Oregon Kaufusi all made more than 100 yards, while Shaun Lane put on two tries and Isaiah Papali’I broke seven tackles.
“The Eels are playing well when their power play is tonight,” said Alexander.
“The two front rowers, you get Niukore off the bench, Lane has been great on the brink, as has Papali’i – they’re all used to powering the middle third of the field.
“When they come roaring out of the back field with Sivo or Waqa Blake – those big, athletic types who carry hard – it takes a lot of pressure off Paulo and Campbell-Gillard that they can come back and then carry hard from the back of sets and they did it,” added Michael Ennis.
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 showing up for each other,” he said.
“It was a good kickback from last week.”
STAR TRIO’S BIG BLUES MEMORY
With the New South Wales Origin squad to be announced 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 maintain their spot in the 17 and the loss to the Blues in match one would no doubt also make Paulo a little nervous about his position.
All three were on mission Saturday night and played a big part in the victory.
“He’s had a great start,” Michael Ennis said of Paulo in the first half.
“Sometimes with Junior Paulo’s skill, sometimes he feels the need to use it to create opportunities and create momentum for his outside men…
“When Paulo is in this mood and aggressive and thinking hard ‘run first’, he is one of the most destructive front rowers in the game.”
Paulo finished with a stunning 228 yards career on 25 runs a tackle bust and offload and 26 tackles with three misses.
Meanwhile, Campbell-Gillard reached 199 yards and Matterson finished with 118 yards and five offloads.
“If you want to put this game where it was won and lost, it was Paulo and RCG,” said Cooper Cronk.
“Frankly, just an excellent performance from the turnaround against the Bulldogs to what they produced tonight. It was just a dominant performance from the entry-level front rowers.”
SUAALII STARS — BUT COCKS SEEN FAST SLIDE
Joseph Suaalii was the Roosters’ best player on Saturday and was rewarded with two tries — one of which came from an impressive individual effort — but there’s no hiding that the Roosters have now lost three games in a row.
Suaalii finished the game with 119 running yards, six tackle busts, three offloads and two linebreaks to go with his two attempts.
One of his four-pointers came to a crucial point in the game – at the start of the second half – when he put in a cross-field chip kick that somehow bounced perfectly to score.
“They had to score first in the second half and they did it through Joseph Suaalii and apparently things like this only happen with players like Joseph Suaalii. He’s special,” said Greg Alexander.
“He was probably our best,” Roosters skipper James Tedesco said after the game.
“Just those tough porters he takes every week. He runs against the teeth of the front pack and gets us on the front foot with quick ball play.
“To have him and ‘Toops’ (Daniel Tupou) in the back field is really special. He is a very skilled and talented player.”
But take Suaalii’s performance out of the frame and it may be time to worry.
The Roosters have now lost three in a row for the first time since mid-2019 and are in ninth. It is also the first time since 2016 that they have finished a round outside the top eight after round 3 of the season.
They will face the Panthers in Penrith next week – their biggest test this season.
“Our center defense has to be better than tonight,” Tedesco said looking ahead on lap 16.
“We knew Parramatta was going to come out, especially after the way they played last week, but Penrith did that with us when they played against us – they went through our midst.
“We just have to play an 80-minute performance, we haven’t done that all year. We’ve been good at patches, but just not consistent enough.”
eel: 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. Substitute 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. Substitute player: 20. Paul Momirovski
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