Parramatta fans – you can start believing again.
After a grim fortnight in which the Eels leaked 66 points in suffering back-to-back defeats to Manly and Souths, the Eels said enough was enough and thrashed Newcastle 40-4 in the ultimate gate-crash at McDonalds Jones Stadium on Sunday.
But the win may have come at considerable cost, with in-form hooker Reed Mahoney suffering a shoulder injury late in the game.
He cut a despondent figure as he left the field with his left arm hanging limply by his side.
Mahoney did the damage after flinging his arm attempting to reel in a kick and will now await scan results to see how much football he will miss.
On the Knights’ Old Boys’ Day – marking 20 years since beating Parramatta in one of the great grand final upsets – the Eels ruined the party with a clinical performance which solidified their position in the top four.
It was also an indication the consecutive losses were more a blip than something more terminal, even allowing for Newcastle’s bumbling effort.
In what was an almost identical half-time scoreline to the 2001 decider, the blue and golds led 22-0 after pouring through some flimsy defence to score five tries.
Unlike two decades ago, there was no second half miracle from the spluttering Knights.
The home side was missing a host of frontline players but it was still a disappointingly flat and disjointed effort on a special day for the club.
Parramatta scored five tries in the first half and a further three in the second half.
Eels winger Maika Sivo helped himself to a double, passing 50 NRL tries in the process as he continues to close the gap on fellow Fijian steamroller Semi Radradra (82 tries in 94 games).
Mahoney’s injury was the only sour note for the blue and golds. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
NSW must be in healthy position when they can enter an Origin match without the services of Clint Gutherson.
Brad Fittler couldn’t find a spot for Gutho in his team for Origin I, but there were no complaints from the Eels.
They benefited from having their captain at the back defusing kicks, marshalling the defence, laying on a try, creating two line-break assists and pulling off a defensive strip to prevent a try.
Dylan Brown was solid in his first game back from a three-game suspension, Ryan Matterson was an absolute handful and Mahoney was outstanding after spending time in the Queensland Origin camp.
This is more like the Parramatta their fans came to know and love during the opening 10 rounds of the competition.
Newcastle sure know how to suck the life out of a party.
After running out through a tunnel of ex-players from the club’s 2001 grand final-winning side, the modern-day Knights barely made a noise.
A dreadful first half in which they completed at just over 50 per cent set the tone and it didn’t get much better from there.
Yes, Newcastle had a number of big name players out.
But there was none of the fight or spirit we saw in the upset win over Manly just seven days prior.
Jack Johns, son of club legend Matty Johns, made it onto the field for his club debut five minutes before the break, but he won’t have overly fond memories of his first outing.
Plenty in reserve
Blake Ferguson’s decision to decline a leave pass and play reserve grade against the Knights paid off.
The former rep winger ran strongly with the ball and was safe under the high ball, but it was his defence that stood out in the Eels’ 30-22 win.
Dropped by Brad Arthur mainly due to his defensive lapses, the off-contract Ferguson came up with a couple of nice reads and pulled off a strong tackle to halt a certain Newcastle try in the first half.
Arthur gave the 31-year-old the option of having the weekend off to clear his head, but Ferguson preferred to play and work on his game.
But after the Eels’ big win in the main game, it’s hard to see Ferguson returning for next Sunday’s clash with the Wests Tigers at Bankwest Stadium.
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