The Dyldam Parramatta Eels were met with a tough and physical encounter against the Bulldogs last night at ANZ Stadium and the Blue and Gold fought to the final minute as they fell 32-12.
The Eels side were hit with injury after injury, with 5 players being treated during the game, and despite the side’s best efforts to stay competitive, the Blue and Gold were unable to stay with last years’ grand finalists.
“It is a very disappointing result tonight,” said Eels five-eighth Corey Norman after the game.
“We were right in that game and just at the end there, we weren’t completing sets, we let them back in and they rolled us in the end.”
The match started with the Bulldogs having a mountain of possession on the Eels try line with the Blue and Gold repelling the Bulldogs attack during their opening eight sets.
“It was tough but we felt comfortable and they didn’t go through us, they had to go around us which was a positive sign” Norman said of the opening challenge.
Norman, who was backing up after last week’s performance earned him Man of the Match honours, was impressive in the Eels defeat.
The five-eighth steered the Blue and Gold around the park when halfback Chris Sandow exited the field through injury, and Norman laid on two tries early in the second half to put the Eels in front.
The five-eighth looked dangerous when he had the ball in his hand, running for 112m, however he was quick to downplay his impact in the game and turned his focus quickly onto next week.
“I thought my performance was alright, but it obviously wasn’t good enough because I didn’t get us over the line there” Norman said.
“I think we just need to regroup. It’s only early days, it’s only Round Two.”
“It’s a long season ahead and we definitely are not panicking yet. We have the Warriors next week so we just have to get back into training.”
Head Coach Brad Arthur noted that the Eels finished with a 68% completion rate, and Norman knows it played a big factor in the end result.
“We were just beating ourselves,” Norman said.
“They were attacking our line for 10 sets of the opening 12 and that’s not a good start to any game and Brad Arthur was just telling us to stay in it, complete our sets and we will get back over them.”
The Eels hit the front in the 44th minute of the clash, however the injuries began to build and the Blue and Gold paid the price.
“How many did we lose? Three, Four? That is going to hurt any time” Norman said.
“We stayed in the grind there for a long time but in that last 15 minutes we just couldn’t hold on there which is a bit unlucky for us” he added.
As the Blue and Gold determinedly fought to the end, Norman paid credit to young forward Tepai Moeroa who played through injury and front-rower Danny Wicks who made his first appearance in the NRL in almost five years.
“Tepai Moeroa is very tough. He has a crook shoulder so I am not too sure what they are going to do with him but his effort was massive tonight” Norman praised.
“Danny Wicks brought a lot of energy for us. He had great hit ups and his defence was good too.”
“First game back after 5 years, I thought he went really well.”