Parramatta Eels head coach Brad Arthur has said it wasn’t quite an 80 minute performance from his charges but he was impressed with the effort after the Blue & Gold came away 24-10 victors over the Dragons at ANZ Stadium tonight (Sunday 18 June).
“It was a bit patchy at times, a bit like us at the moment I think. The only thing consistent with us is our inconsistencies. We need to work at that but I really liked the grit and the determination and the excitement at the end of the game to get up in defence and try and take it personal. I was really impressed with that,” he said.
“Today was important for us but like I said we probably deserve to be where we sit. We’ve played some good football and some football we’re not happy with. We’re a middle of the road team and we sit middle of the road I think. We need to work on being consistently a team that can aim up week in, week out.”
“We’re going into a bye. It’s really important to get a win going into a bye, otherwise it’s a long time between games to have to mull over it,” said Arthur.
With the Eels having to shuffle the backline again this year due to injury, Arthur praised his players’ efforts to give it their best in positions they aren’t regularly accustomed to.
“We’ve used 10 backs this year and only two of those have played every game. So eight of those have been out for extended periods and at the moment blokes have got to jump in and play a position not that they’re foreign to but that’s probably not their preferred position but they’ve got to do what’s best for the team.”
The head coach singled out young-gun Bevan French who made the mid-week switch from fullback to wing to accommodate the returning Michael Jennings.
“He (Bevan French) trained really well all week. He had the choice to sulk about it and he didn’t and that’s the sort of kid he is and he worked really hard all week at training with Jenko (Michael Jennings) on that right edge.
“I thought they did a great job in defence and then Bevan nailed a couple of big moments tonight. They put him under a lot of pressure and maybe that was the difference in the game for us, he was really good.”
Most impressive to Arthur was French’s physicality and his ability to get off the line to close down the opposition.
“He put his body on the line. He’s not real heavy or strong at the moment but his decision making was good and I think having Michael Jennings inside him with his talk and experience probably helped Bevan with some confidence,” said the coach.
Co-captain Tim Mannah agreed, saying the slightly built French hit well above his weight.
“I think the biggest thing has been his (Bevan French) attitude. Like Brad said his attitude throughout the week has been outstanding and I thought he really stood up today and the forwards were saying he thinks he’s 110 kilos the way he’s hitting. It was really good seeing him come off the line,” Mannah said.
With the possibility of Kirisome Auva’a returning next match Arthur said it was going to be tough to decide who would be missing out.
“We get Kirisome back next week so we’ve got some tough decisions to make. At the end of the day in my view Bevan’s best position move forward is fullback but he’s still only young, still learning his trade and at the end of the day we just need to put the best possible team out there every week to try and win a footy game.”
Also starring in the win over the Dragons was utility Clint Gutherson who played a guiding hand from fullback.
“Gutho’s (Clint Gutherson) just a footballer and I don’t know where his best position is to tell you the truth. You just need to have him on the field somewhere."
“Last week he had 31 touches and ran for nearly nine kilometres. He ran more than our halves last week but we didn’t have any ball and we didn’t kick well last week so we didn’t probably give “Guts” an opportunity to see what he could do in the centres last week,” said Arthur.
Blue and Gold halfback Mitchell Moses came in for some praise from the head coach for his defensive efforts in this game.
“He (Mitchell Moses) was great. There was only one tackle there where he went from marker and it was more a technique issue. He’s worked really hard in the week, he’s carrying a bit of an injury which is preventing him from doing some contact work but he really went about his business this week and done a lot of extras. I think Michael Jennings was probably a key there for us too on the right edge, he gives us a bit of confidence,” Arthur said.
On the injury front Arthur said he wasn’t too sure how long either of Kaysa Pritchard or Beau Scott will be out with both needing further scans.
“He (Kaysa Pritchard) was in a bit of a pain, he wouldn’t let the guys have a look at him but I’m not real sure to tell you the truth. Beau Scott’s elbow, we have to get some scans and see where we’re at but I don’t think he’ll be playing soon,” he said.
Despite the side’s recent struggles at ANZ Stadium, Arthur said it doesn’t matter where his side plays, they just have to go out and do a job.
“The Club’s done a really good job with the sheds to make us feel at home but at the end of the day we’ve just got to go and play. There’s all these records that say we can’t win here, can’t do that, but I’m not big on records.”