It’s another week and another missed opportunity for the Parramatta Eels to break their duck as they now read 0-6 to start the season. Neither side was outstanding but there were glimpses from the Raiders, particularly Joseph Leilua and Jordan Rapana, that would excite the Green Machine fans.
There were some talking points after the game, so let’s look at five things we learned from the clash.
1 Eels look tired
It is only round six and the fitness of the Parramatta Eels has to come into question. In the off-season Jarryd Hayne came under fire for being the worst performer in their 5km time trial. Notoriously known for his lack of effort in training, what is more alarming is that some of his teammates look like they have adopted a similar philosophy.
It was not even before half-time, where possession was even and you could throw a blanket over the Eels in attack as they struggled to make it back onside.
This lack of fitness is affecting their entire game, shown by their inability to cross for a try in the match.
2 Raiders step up for Stuart
Ricky Stuart has been one of the most polarising coaches in history. Eels fans are not a fan of the former halfback but the Canberra board and fans have welcomed home one of their own over the past few seasons.
This week saw Stuart chalk up his 350th game as a first-grade coach and while it would have been highly unlikely that it would have been spoken about, the players would have liked to win for their leader and continue their turnaround.
The home side was successful in getting the two points and ensured it will be a happy night in the Nation's capital.
3 French rushed back
Injuries have not helped the Eels cause and have led to them in the predicament they are in at 0-6. Most notably was the late start to the season for fullback Clint Gutherson after an ACL injury at the back end of last season. However, the man taking his place over the past few weeks, Bevan French, has had his injury worries this year.
Gutherson and French made their return to the lineup this week and there was plenty of pressure on the pair to lift the team back to the form that saw them finish in the top four last year. Gutherson showed glimpses of his talent in a solid return but it was the play of French which would be most troubling. Highlighted in the commentary by Braith Anasta, it took the winger 75 minutes to take a hit-up. It's almost unfathomable for a player to be on the field for that long and avoid the ball. Bevan French could do that and highlights he may not have been 100% or even ready to start the game.
4 Austin makes a statement
Blake Austin has spent the last two weeks playing for the Raiders feeder club, the Mounties. However, an injury to fellow half, Sam Williams, afforded Austin an opportunity to return to the first-grade lineup and show Ricky Stuart that he deserves a permanent spot in the side.
It didn't take long in the first-half for Austin to reward the faith shown by the coach when he executed his trademark dummy and step which allowed him to cross over for a try.
Post-match speaking to Fox Sports, he revealed that his attack was never in question but he was sent down to work on his defence. The Eels weren't able to score a try this week so that should bode well in his comeback to go along with the try.
5 Sin bin city
The referees have been heavily scrutinised about their decision this season to crack down more on the offside rule and infringements in the ruck. This sudden change has meant that not only have penalties increased dramatically but so to have sin bins.
After conceding 10 penalties throughout the game up to the 55th minute, the referees had enough and Daniel Alvaro was the unlucky one sent to the bin for 10 minutes.
That would not be the end of the drama for sin bins as late in the game Luke Bateman was given his marching orders to even up the stats in that column.
It will take time for the players to understand where the line is but the referees also have to stick to their guns to ensure that the wrestle doesn't creep back into the game and dominate fixtures like it has in the past.
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