Parramatta coach Brad Arthur demanded his Eels show more respect for the opposition after a diabolical first half nearly cost them a win against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
The Eels trailed 16-0 at half-time after a horrific opening 40 minutes where they had just 36 per cent possession, completed 10 of 19 sets and dropped the ball almost every time they crossed the halfway line.
Three tries in 12 minutes early in the second half put the Eels back in front before Junior Paulo finally sealed the 24-16 win with a barnstorming try with 70 seconds on the clock.
“I’m a little bit annoyed we didn’t show them enough respect early in the first half. I don’t want us to be a team like that,” Arthur said.
“Maybe in the last couple of years we couldn’t have fought back.
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“(The first half) was just a reflection of probably not respecting the opposition or ourselves. We thought we could pass our way to it instead of working hard.
“I saw how calm they were in the sheds at half-time, I spoke to our assistant coach (Steve Murphy) who said they were really calm on the field too so that was a good indication for me. I know how desperate they are to make sure we play well.
“We had to show a bit of character once we got in front to fight and hang on so I was pretty pleased with that. I thought physically we finished the game pretty good.”
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While the Eels showed resolve to fight back they had the Broncos on the ropes the entire second half as injuries to Xavier Coates, Matt Lodge and John Asiata meant the home side had just one player on the bench in the final 20 minutes.
Hooker Reed Mahoney was dynamic for the Eels, scoring the try from dummy half that got the fightback rolling while Clint Gutherson and Blake Ferguson combined well to set up tries for each other.
It was an admirable fightback by the Eels but Arthur is well aware you can’t afford sluggish starts against the elite teams of the NRL starting with next week against reigning premiers Melbourne.
“That was talked about straight away but we can get back, relax for a couple days, dust ourselves off and get up and go again but we know we’re up against quality opposition,” Arthur said.
“We just need to focus on the sort of team we want to look like. The first half was nowhere near it.”