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Near enough not good enough for 'filthy' Eels

Sticking with the premiers for 65 minutes when you are the reigning wooden spooners would widely be considered a pass mark.

Not so for Brad Arthur's 2019 Eels, with players at best grudgingly admitting they may have silenced a few doubters but furious at the way they let a winnable game slip.

Parramatta were in striking distance of their third win from as many games when they led the Roosters 18-14 with 20 minutes to play on Friday night.

"We were rubbish, I thought," fired a clearly frustrated Mitch Moses after the game.

"Every time we scored points we let them off too easy and wouldn't complete our next set. It really hurt us and stopped our momentum straight away once we got it.

"We're filthy with ourselves, simple errors, attention to detail stuff, we have to fix that up. If we complete at 80% we're probably in that game up to the 80th minute.

"It's a big learning curve for us, we'll take a lot of lessons out of it but we've got to be better next week for the Sharks."

Eels teammates Mitch Moses (left) and Blake Ferguson.
Eels teammates Mitch Moses (left) and Blake Ferguson. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

Parramatta were the most error-prone team heading into week three, with 32 errors in two games, equal-worst with the Titans. However their first two opponents, Penrith and Canterbury, were not able to punish those errors as a resilient Eels team showed they could defend their line.

"We know in our camp if we hold the ball and go toe to toe with teams, we're a very fit team," Moses said.

"We've learned from [last year] and we're a lot better side but we've got to be a lot better than we were [Friday]."

There are a few differences in the Eels side compared to last year that seem to be paying dividends. One is the recruitment of two big-bodied wingers in Blake Ferguson and Maika Sivo to get sets started in a more positive fashion.

Moses looks to be combining better with rookie Dylan Brown than he did last year with Corey Norman. And the addition of big bodies Junior Paulo and Shaun Lane is helping the pack get a roll on.

The middle forward rotation has also been boosted by the evolution of Tepai Moeroa into a middle forward rather than an edge forward for the first time after just intermittent appearances at lock previously.

Boasting a few extra kilograms, a robust Moeroa has been an unsung hero in Parra's opening two wins and losing him to a calf strain in the warm-up was a huge blow on the back of already missing Nathan Brown to a pec injury.

"It felt like we missed Tepai a fair bit," Moses admitted.

"He's been probably our best player the first two rounds, we did miss him a fair bit.

"He's put some size on, he's loving it, he's loving his role at the moment.

Match Highlights: Eels v Roosters

"[But] the first two rounds we've had those problems as well (missing Junior Paulo and Nathan Brown at times) and had players come in and do their job."

One of those key difference-makers, Ferguson, was clearly fired up for a big game against his former club and he got plenty of enjoyment out of opening the scoring barely five minutes in. Like Moses, Ferguson was "filthy" not to have gone on with it.

"We were pretty disappointed with the way we finished that game but we've got the belief within our squad, key moments there we didn't have what was expected within our culture," Ferguson said.

The former Blues and Kangaroos flanker was tight-lipped on his ambitions to return to the representative scene, other than confirming he had made contact with NSW coach Brad Fittler and hoped to be considered for this year's Origin series.

"We've had a chat but I'll keep that between myself and Freddie … it is a goal [to play Origin again]," he said.

A seemingly happy and settled Ferguson has been eye-catching not just for his individual form but for the leadership he seems to be showing.

"I've always had that in me. At the Roosters there's a lot of leaders there and I learned so much off them," Ferguson said.

"I feel like the boys listen to what I say. I don't say too much. I just enjoy footy."

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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