Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur has praised centre Michael Jennings and his halves following his team’s 20-12 win over the Penrith Panthers.
Marata Niukore opened the score for the Blue and Gold in 14th minute, before Jennings crossed for the first of his two tries in the 24th minute.
Coach Brad Arthur praised his attitude in the pre-season to turn around his game.
“(He) has done self-reflection and come back with a lot of resolve and he did that himself,” Arthur said.
The Eels unfortunately lost lock Nathan Brown due to injury, but they still managed to head into the change rooms at halftime up 8-0.
But it was the resolve they showed in the second half that won them the game.
Young hooker Reed Mahoney was first to cross after halftime in the 44th minute, before Jennings was sin binned for a high tackle on Isaah Yeo.
The sin binning was a turning point in the game.
“Maika (Sivo) scored in the corner and it gets taken off him, Jenko gets sent to the sin bin and they score two tries,” Arthur said.
The Panthers scored twice while Jennings was off the field; Wayde Egan in the 54th minute and James Tamou in the 64th minute.
By the time Jennings returned the score was 14-12.
“I thought his next action to make up for it when he came out after that ten minutes was when he pushed someone out to touch on that kick, which was a good result,” Arthur said.
He heaped praise on young Eels’ five-eighth Dylan Brown, who stepped up during the challenging period and led the team with aggression, yet calmness.
“Yeah he did a good job, especially for that 10 minute period where we were down Michael Jennings," Arthur said.
"He had to defend in the centres and Shaun Lane defended as a half against James Maloney so it was a fair effort that 10-minute period; showed good calmness and composure."
"It’s what we talked about in the week with him and all pre-season; that’s what we like about him."
"I thought his play of the game was his kick for Michel Jennings into the corner late in that second half, “ he said.
Jennings scored his second try of the match four minutes out from full time, helping his side to a much-desired opening round victory.