The Parramatta Eels have kicked off their 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership campaign with a 20-12 victory over the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Lottoland on Sunday 5 March.
Speaking after the game, Blue & Gold Head Coach Brad Arthur was pleased to come away with the two points, in a gritty and grinding performance against a Sea Eagles side that deserved plenty of credit.
“It is a tough place to come down and grind out a win. I thought both teams went at it, and we probably need to give a fair bit of credit to Manly,” Arthur said in the post match press conference after the game.
“They drew a fair bit of pressure on the try line there in the second half, but I was really happy we showed a fair bit of patience.”
“That’s the style of footy we like to play [aggressive and hard running], but I thought they played really well and matched us in that department, and we just kept persisting.” He added.
With the Round One clash the first opportunity to see new-halves combination Corey Norman and Clint Gutherson in action, Arthur said that despite being pleased with their performances, they still had a lot to work on, admitting that Norman himself agreed he had plenty to work on.
“We went into this game a little bit underdone. We didn’t play a lot of minutes throughout the trials with a lot of our key players; Corey Norman hasn’t played since Round 17 and Gutho, they haven’t played together,” Arthur said.
“We have a lot to work on but to complete at 82% and grind out a win was pleasing.”
“Corey was good, but I thought he was out on his feet. He is going to get better for us. He is not real happy with how he played, and that’s good that he is setting himself expectations but he definitely made a different for us.” He added.
And whilst the halves combination put in a good performance in the Eels season opener, Arthur knows that over time, the combination will only continue to grow and improve.
“They are going to take time but I thought Gutho was good, he ran the footy well,” Arthur said.
“They have done a lot of training pre-season with them together, but then after Christmas, we only had a couple of weeks and then some of them are getting ready to play Nines, some are getting ready to play in the trial in Alice Springs so the preparation wasn’t great but they are going to get better.”
“It will be a little bit better next week, but it is going to take time and we are going to persist with it. Corey Norman hasn’t got any match fitness at the moment, he was seeing things that he just couldn’t there.” he added.
The Eels will take on the St. George Illawarra Dragons at WIN Stadium on Sunday 12 March for Round Two of the NRL Telstra Premiership.