The Dyldam Parramatta Eels suffered a 20-18 defeat to the Penrith Panthers last night, after a try on the buzzer saw the away side come away with the two points in the Battle of the West.
Whilst disappointed not to come away with the win, Blue and Gold forward Junior Paulo put it down to the share of possession in the final 10 minutes that cost the Eels the victory.
“It was a tough one, right in that last second of the game. I guess it was just that one tackle we had to make, but what it came down to was the line nine sets,” Paulo said.
“We only had two of them, so if we had an even share of the ball in that last nine sets it probably would of made a difference for us.”
“We can’t do it week to week, having to defend our line. We defended seven sets in a row and to have a team like Penrith hold on to the ball for those seven sets, it was really tough,” Paulo added.
“They are a team that are pretty much unpredictable with their attack and for us, we were unlucky to let it slip away.”
With the Eels holding a strong defensive record entering the Round Five clash, Paulo said the side prided themselves on their resilient goal line defence and going down after holding a lead for the majority of the match was unlucky.
“We pride ourselves on our defence, and we were just unlucky there. We can’t keep defending week in, week out which makes it tough on us and it was that last second that let us down,” Paulo said.
“They pulled a rabbit out of the hat and they came away with the win,” he added.
“There is always going to be areas we take positives out of, but there are areas where we need to improve. For us, we don’t compromise in any areas, but we we’re unlucky there.”
With the absence of Tim Mannah, Paulo led from the front.
The prop finished the game with 100m from 12 carries, 19 tackles, three tackle breaks, one line break and one try.
And Paulo, who crossed for his second try in two weeks, paid full credit to halfback Kieran Foran for the four pointers.
“He is making my job easy isn’t he? Just hitting the hole and I am just pretty much falling over the line,” Paulo said.
“Having Foz in our team is definitely a confidence booster, and also just one of those players you need on your team” He added.
“He brings a lot of energy to our team, and having the likes of Beau Scott on that edge as well, there is a lot of energy that they bring.”
And after starting the year in devastating fashion, the forward gave his thoughts on future NSW Origin aspirations.
“Personally, I am just looking to do my job week to week and if I am ticking all the boxes for the coaching staff and the team, I am happy to do that,” Paulo said.
“If I am in the mix there [NSW Origin], I will be happy to grab it with both hands and run with it, but for now, I am just focusing on week to week footy with Parramatta and we will see how we go during the year.”
The Eels take on the Canberra Raiders at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday 9 April, kick off at 3pm.