Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur has described his side’s Round 3 win over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs as a key test for the team’s attitude in the 2016 season.
Arthur’s charges notched up a 20-6 win over their traditional rivals at ANZ Stadium on Friday night, backing up their Round 2 victory over defending premiers, the North Queensland Cowboys.
“It was a good carryover from last week,” Arthur said.
“Last week would have been pointless if we didn’t back that effort and that standard up tonight. Physically we were good against a big, strong outfit, and the boys have worked hard in the pre-season and it paid off for us tonight.”
“We’ve won 2 from 3, but we’ve got a big test next week: do we get comfortable, or do we like winning games of football?”
The Round 3 match up was characterised by its brutal defense, and Arthur was pleased with how his side confronted the challenge of facing an undefeated Bulldogs outfit.
“I thought it was a good game, actually.” Arthur said.
“We went into the sheds at half time [leading] 6-0, and I said to the boys what we wanted was a contest like that, just to give us a true indication of where we’re at. The Bulldogs completed at 84%, they kept coming at us, so it was a really good test.”
“There are still some things there that we need to improve; the last 2 weeks we’ve let 2 soft tries in with a couple of minutes to go, we need to be better than that.”
The Eels ran in three tries in the 20-6 win, and were denied a potential third for Semi Radradra, and Arthur says the freedom in attack fits into Blue and Gold’s game plan.
“There’s always a licence to play a bit of footy, as long as we learn to back it up with our defence and play tough,” Arthur said.
“We don’t lock anyone in to having to play a certain role, we’ve got our structures and our frameworks, but if Semi wants to go get the football he’s welcome to. And when the big boys start to get tired and you’ve got fast feet through the middle it’s pretty hard to handle.”
Eels Club Captain Tim Mannah and lock Tepai Moeroa both left the field during the match, with Moeroa returning after being cleared by medical staff, and Mannah treated for a cut to the forehead. Second-rower Beau Scott took a knock to his shoulder in the first half of play, but Arthur said leaving the field was never an option.
“He wasn’t coming off,” Arthur said.
“We needed him to stay out there. We just needed him to get through that 10-minute mark in the second half. He got a bump on his shoulder, so we’ll see how he pulls up during the week.”