Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur has refused to point to his side’s injury toll or fatigue as the reasons behind the Eels’ 32-12 loss to the Bulldogs in Round 2.
The Eels absorbed mountains of pressure in the early stages in the game, repelling seven attacking sets from the home side before the Bulldogs finally found the try line.
But for Arthur, the key moment in the game came soon after halftime, where the Blue and Gold couldn’t quite manage to hold on to a slim 12-8 lead.
“Sure it’s not the way to start a game, [playing] the first 13 sets and we only have 2 of them,” Arthur said.
“I know 32 points probably doesn’t look like it, but I thought defensively they (the Eels) kept aiming up. I just feel that we shot ourselves in the foot.”
“We put ourselves in a position to try and control the game and we made too many unforced errors coming out of the ‘red zone’.”
“That’s where [fatigue] took its toll. If we’d completed, and kicked long, and kept playing a controlled, disciplined game it mightn’t have taken its toll.”
The clash saw five Eels head down the tunnel for medical attention, and while Chris Sandow and Anthony Watmough later returned to the field, the high injury toll saw prop Danny Wicks play for longer than the coaching staff anticipated.
“We had to make 5 changes at halftime,” Arthur said.
“And he probably got more minutes because of the circumstances than we planned, but he did okay. I thought he was great, I really did.”
“He carried the ball up strongly and with good leg speed; he worked hard for a play-the-ball for us and defensively he kept filling the space from inside.”
Arthur praised his side’s spirit, but admitted that after Friday night’s bruising encounter there was work to do to get them physically prepared for next weekend’s clash with the New Zealand Warriors.
“I was very proud of our boys' efforts,” Arthur said.
“I thought they played tough, and they hung in there and they tried hard.”
“We’re just lucky we’ve got an eight day turnaround.”