Eels make it four in a row with dominant win

The Eels made light work of the Sea Eagles in a 34-4 victory on Saturday night to pick up their fourth win in a row and continue their mid-season resurgence.

As the club celebrated the 40-year anniversary of their 1983 Grand Final win over Manly, the current day Eels produced a dominant first half showing which saw them run in four tries, all of which were converted by Clint Gutherson, to establish a 24-4 lead. 

Brad Arthur's men owned possession of the ball for most of the match and in the end Manly had just 37 percent of the Steeden, which equated to 12 fewer sets than the Eels and forced them to make 120 extra tackles. 

The scoreline made ugly viewing for Manly as it was and it could have been much worse, with the Eels having a number of other try claims ruled out by the Bunker.

Signs of what was to come were there from the start, and what appeared to be a dodged bullet on nine minutes for Manly turned out to be the start of their downfall.

After Parramatta were unsuccessful in their efforts to score, fullback Kaeo Weekes was found to have committed a professional foul in the lead up, and in the five minutes following his sin-binning the Eels scored twice to establish a 12-0 lead, with Ofahiki Ogden crashing over before Bailey Simonsson crossed.

Once back to 13 players the Sea Eagles responded with a try down the left edge for Christian Tuipulotu, but ideas of a comeback were quickly thwarted by strikes from Gutherson and Hopgood.

After a long break in the scoring in the second half – during which time they had possible tries for Sean Russell and Maika Sivo ruled out by the Bunker – Simonsson got his second on 61 minutes.

Sivo was again denied, along with Ogden being held up in his attempt to grab a double, before Sivo turned provider with a delicate chip kick to hand Makahesi Makatoa his first try in the NRL and cap off a comprehensive victory.  

Match Snapshot 

  • In a dominant first half showing the Eels scored four converted tries on the back of 59 percent possession and completed at 80 percent, compared to Manly's 68 percent. 
  • The Eels had four starting forwards run for over 100 metres, while five of their backline did the same. 
  • Kaeo Weekes spent 10 minutes in the sin bin for a professional foul in the first half, and while he was off the field the Eels scored twice. 
  • It was the Eels' sixth win in a row at CommBank Stadium.
  • Eels winger Maika Sivo had scored eight tries in eight games against the Sea Eagles prior to Saturday night and came close to adding to his total, but was twice ruled out by the Bunker. 

Play of the Game
You could almost see the moment J'maine Hopgood's eye lit up when he realised he was into a half gap, and what followed was a brutal fend and bumping run to get over the line. It was part of a strong showing from the Queenslander, who made 167 metres and 32 tackles. 

What They Said
"At the moment we sort of take one step forward, a couple of steps back. We couldn't handle the chaos of that early sin-binning... it was a tough old night for us from there. We have shown a ton of effort and toughness this year, even in the games when we haven't been great and haven't executed that well, we have been really tough and hung in. We weren't as good with the effort part of the game tonight." – Sea Eagles coach Anthony Seibold.

"[It pleased me most] that we enjoyed being boring. We knew that we were missing some personnel in the spine... I was really proud of the boys that they just wanted to get their tackle count up, have plenty of possession, play from short field positions, keep it nice and simple and defend really well. When your core group of senior players own their roles every week it allows other guys to develop when they come into the team and do their jobs easier." – Eels coach Brad Arthur. 

What's Next 
A trip to the Sunshine Coast to take on the Dolphins, who are coming off a Round 16 bye, awaits the Eels, with the venue likely making the prospect of Junior Paulo and Mitchell Moses backing up more likely, given Origin II is in Brisbane. The Sea Eagles meanwhile take on the Storm at AAMI Park on Saturday night.

 

Story first published on NRL.com

Link to original story

Author: 
Corey Rosser, NRL Reporter