The Eels bounced back from their humiliating Round 14 loss to deliver a spirited 26-16 win over the Roosters – who have now suffered three straight losses.
Their intention was clear from the start with the Eels carrying on five stunning tries in a first-half masterclass that arguably included the try of the year.
The Roosters kept the game alive with an impressive individual try against youngster Joseph Suaalii in the second half, but it wasn’t enough.
Meanwhile, there are doubts over the availability of two State of Origin stars after they were flagged for dangerous tackles.
There are also injury issues for the Roosters with brothers Nat and Egan Butcher failing the HIAs.
MATCH CENTRE: Eels vs Roosters live scores, stats, video
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FORWARDS LEAD THE WAY AS EELS BOUND UP ‘SPECTACULARLY’
The Eels put their humiliating Round 14 loss behind them to deliver a first-half masterclass against the Roosters.
Parramatta’s intention was clear as they scored five superb tries in the opening 40 minutes to take a 26-12 lead.
Cooper Cronk said the Eels were ‘playing out of their skin’ and said their first half was ‘the best 40 minutes we’ve seen this year’, while Greg Alexander was impressed with the thrilling tries.
“The Eels, after leading 6-0…I don’t think I’ve seen a team give so many spectacular tries,” Alexander said.
“They don’t just cross the line, they have great hands – the tries have it all.”
It all came off the back of the effort from the Parramatta forwards. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Junior Paulo, Shaun Lane and Oregon Kaufusi all went over 100 yards, while Shaun Lane had two tries and Isaiah Papali’I had seven tackles.
“The Eels are playing well when their power play is down to tonight,” Alexander said.
“The first two rowers, you get Niukore off the bench, Lane was great on the edge, as was Papali’i – they’re all used to being content with the middle third of the pitch.
“When they roar out of the backfield with Sivo or Waqa Blake – those big, athletic guys who carry hard – it takes a lot of pressure off Paulo and Campbell-Gillard, that they can come back and then carry hard in the back of the sets. and they did,” added Michael Ennis.
Eels star halfback Mitch Moses told Fox League after the win that they wanted to “prove a point” and they did just that.
“We weren’t too happy with our performance last week so we wanted to go out and prove a point…we showed a lot of mental toughness to keep coming together,” he said.
“It was a good comeback shot from last week.”
REMINDER OF THE GREAT BLUES OF THE STAR TRIO
As the original New South Wales squad will be announced on Sunday evening, the trio of Eels Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Junior Paulo and Ryan Matterson sent a big reminder to coach Brad Fittler.
According to multiple reports, Campbell-Gillard and Matterson are under pressure to keep their place in the 17 and the Blues’ defeat in the opener would no doubt make Paulo a bit nervous about his position as well.
All three were on Saturday night’s mission and played a huge part in the win.
“He got off to a great start,” Michael Ennis said of Paulo in the first half.
“Sometimes with Junior Paulo’s talent, sometimes he feels the need to use him to create opportunities and build momentum for his outside men…
“When Paulo is in that mindset and he’s aggressive and thinking ‘run first’, he’s one of the most destructive early rowers in the game.”
Paulo finished with a stunning career-best 228 yards on 25 points, one broken tackle and one offload and 26 tackles with three misses.
Meanwhile, Campbell-Gillard ran 199 yards and Matterson finished with 118 running yards and five offloads.
“If you want to put this game where it was won and lost, it was Paulo and RCG,” Cooper Cronk said.
“Honestly just an outstanding performance from the turnaround against the Bulldogs to what they produced tonight, it was just a dominating performance from the first starting rowers.”
SUAALII STARS – BUT ROOSTERS FACE A QUICK SLIDE
Joseph Suaalii was the Roosters’ best player on Saturday and was rewarded with two tries – including one on an impressive individual effort – but it’s no secret that the Roosters have now lost three games in a row.
Suaalii finished the game with 119 running yards, six tackle saves, three offloads and two line breaks to go along with his two tries.
One of his four points came at a crucial moment in the game – early in the second half – when he threw a cross kick that bounced perfectly for him to score.
“They had to score first in the second half and they did that through Joseph Suaalii and apparently things like that only happen to players like Joseph Suaalii. He’s special,” said Greg Alexander.
“He was probably our best ever,” Roosters skipper James Tedesco said after the game.
“Just those tough runs he takes every week. He runs into the teeth of the attacking group and puts us on the front foot with fast ball play.
“Having him with ‘Toops’ (Daniel Tupou) in the backfield is really special. He’s a very skilled and talented player.”
But take Suaalii’s performance out of the box and it might be time to worry.
The Roosters have now suffered three straight defeats for the first time since the middle of 2019 and sit in ninth place. It’s also the first time since 2016 that they’ve finished a run outside the top eight after round three of the season.
They face the Panthers in Penrith next week – their biggest test this season.
“Our central defense has to be better than it was tonight,” Tedesco said ahead of Round 16.
“We knew Parramatta was going to come out, especially after the way they played last week, but Penrith did that to us too when they played us – they came through our middle.
“We just have to play an 80-minute performance, we haven’t done that all year. We’ve been good in patches, but 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. 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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