“We had a chance to win that game and we let ourselves down with a couple of moments in the game we didn’t quite get right.
“There were some dumb moments really.”
The Eels varied their preparation in a bid to turn things around after the Storm debacle. Arthur sent his forwards for a boxing session with Mark ‘Spud’ Carroll. Mitchell Moses coached a suburban soccer team. It didn’t quite do the trick.
Just days after inking a new contract, Arthur must have been wondering what he had signed up for. Moses threw a long, speculative pass that floated well over the head of Blake Ferguson and into touch. On the first tackle. From the ensuing play, they piggy-backed the Cowboys up the field with a soft penalty.
But the biggest blunder came with just five minutes to go. With the game on the line, George Jennings gathered the ball near his own try line and threw what can only be described as a hospital pass to Blake Ferguson. The winger dropped the ball and it ended up with Cowboys centre Tom Opacic, who scored the match-winner.
“If we had our time over, we wouldn’t make that pass,” Arthur said. “That’s what it is, we can’t be blaming individuals. As a team, there were moments in that game we didn’t get right.”
Of bigger concern was Parramatta’ defence in the middle third of the field. Blasted by their coach for the “soft” performance against the Storm, they allowed Matt Scott to barge over for the opening try of the game. The Cowboys forwards, led by Jason Taumalolo (44 tackles, 23 runs for 238 metres) laid the platform for just their side’s fourth win of the season.
“He played 80 minutes tonight,” said Cowboys coach Paul Green.
“Losing Ben Hampton (biceps injury) in pretty much the first set really … changed the way we use that middle. For Jason to step up and play 80 minutes for us the way he did was awesome for us.”
The game should have been over at half-time. The teams went into the sheds deadlocked at six-all, an outstanding result for the visitors. They enjoyed significantly less possession and were fortunate that three Cowboys tries were disallowed, all due to obstructions in the lead-up. The video referee got the decision right every time. They were lucky escapes given the Eels’ defence was exposed on each occasion.
“The effort was great, the attitude to performance was really positive,” Arthur said.
“Some big moments in the game let us down and proved costly in the end. We had 40 per cent of possession, but they managed the game better.”
Parramatta were coming off one of the biggest drubbings they had ever received. Again they were unable to bank on Bankwest, forced to make another trip north. They will be back home next week, but the venue alone won’t guarantee a victory on current form. Not even against Penrith.
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.