Parramatta Eels coach Brad Arthur says he expected his side's first round clash with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs to be a dogfight.
The Eels came away with a narrow 8-2 win at Bankwest Stadium, after Reed Mahoney sealed the victory with a try in the 65th minute.
Here's what Brad Arthur said in his post-match press conference.
Bulldogs made Eels work for win
“Yeah we knew they would. I thought they did exactly to us what they did last year; dragged us in for a real dogfight. I think in the first half we lacked a bit of patience, got frustrated, but I think that second half we settled a bit and completed a bit better. We tried to build some pressure, but we just didn’t get any great opportunities in good field position.
You can see how they finished the season last year. They’ve spent the whole pre-season working hard like every other club and I saw the way they played in the Nines. That was enough for me to see that they were going to come with plenty of effort.”
Did Arthur expect his team not to be dragged into dogfight?
“No. It’s something that we need to get better at and work on but the pleasing thing is that I’m sitting here and we managed to get better in the second half and turn it around. Whereas last year we didn’t and we couldn’t capitalise on opportunities we had at the backend of the game. I would nearly rather the game we had tonight, than walking off the field and being in front by 20.”
Did Arthur expect his team to perform the way they did?
“I thought we would be better with the ball, but I was really happy with the defence. We kept turning up. I was really happy with the attitude; I was really happy with their effort. It is Round One; I thought we were a bit clunky and rusty in the trials with the ball as well. We sort of changed our focus and attention to a bit more defence. So as long as we can give ourselves the opportunity with completions and keep the ball in hand, we will get better that way. But first half, we were completing at 58 per-cent or something.”
Thoughts on Matterson and Campbell-Gillard’s debuts
“Yeah, I thought they were solid. Reg’s (Campbell-Gillard) intent was really good, but we just have to harness that and make sure he is effective all the time. The intent was good from both of them. I think Matterson was a nice calming, influencing figure in the second half.”
“That was something we talked about and worked very hard during the week and all pre-season about being better defensively. When things go against us, if we make an error or we give away a penalty, not conceding a soft try. So, that was pleasing for us tonight, our defence.”
On the mis-fired Captain’s Challenge
“I don’t know if we could have used it again, but Reg was pretty adamant that he wanted Gutho to challenge it so I just backed the boys. “
Maika’s head knock
“If they tell me he has to come off downstairs, they come off but I moved on from it pretty quickly. He got up and they said he was alright.”