Familiar NRL start for rusty Eels - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Familiar NRL start for rusty Eels

By David Beniuk 05/04/2010 09:09:39 AM Comments (0)

Pre-season favourites Parramatta have now made a worse start to the 2010 NRL season than they did in their notoriously slow opening to last year.

The Eels' late-season surge to the grand final in 2009 after a woeful opening is now the stuff of folklore but, despite adding big names Timana Tahu and Justin Poore to their roster, they have slumped to 1-3 this campaign.

After four rounds last year, Parramatta were 2-2 before going on to win just three of their next 12.

Coach Daniel Anderson admits key players, especially halves Jeff Robson and Daniel Mortimer, are out of form and says he may need to "tweak" the side for next Monday's clash with Canberra.

"We are trying hard to find confidence and form, especially our key players, but most of them are coming up short unfortunately," Anderson said after Saturday's 11-0 loss to strugglers Cronulla.

"I don't have a bottomless pit of players.

"These are the boys that are going to have to dig us out of the hole that we're in.

"We may tweak the team a bit because it's just not good enough but it's not like I'm going to go and grab an extra five or six players from somewhere."

Mortimer, who was the subject of an early season tug-of-war between the Eels and Canterbury after a stellar debut year, now needs to fight off a potential bout of second-year syndrome, while superstar Jarryd Hayne is struggling for opportunities to impose himself on opposing sides.

"He's defusing kicks exceptionally well," Anderson said of his fullback.

"We're spilling the ball before he has an opportunity to sniff what's going on."

Hot favourites as the competition kicked off, the Eels have blown out to be $9 fourth favourites behind undefeated Melbourne ($4.50), St George Illawarra ($5) and the Wests Tigers ($7.50).

Anderson said his side had to put aside any thoughts of a similar late-season revival.

"We have to make it happen, not let it happen, that's the key to it and we'll do whatever we can to make it happen," he said.

"We're not pretending it's all going to be done on the training paddock, we need to take opportunities when they come."

On Sunday, Manly ground out a controversial 14-6 win over the Warriors in Auckland, while the Wests Tigers piled on 31 unanswered points to defeat Canberra 35-22 and surge to third on the ladder.

"That's character," said Tigers coach Tim Sheens, who notched a 300th career victory.

"You can say maybe we didn't deserve to win based on our first half, but on our second half we did, and it's about playing two halves of football."

The Storm sit alone on top after Friday's impressive 17-4 win over second-placed St George Illawarra at Etihad Stadium.

Fourth-placed Gold Coast, minus injured captain Scott Prince, joined the Dragons in suffering a first defeat of the season, 32-18 to North Queensland on Saturday night in Townsville.

The fifth-placed Sydney Roosters righted their ship after last week's humiliation by Canterbury with a 25-6 win over injury-ravaged Brisbane, who sit in the unfamiliar spot of last on the ladder.

On Monday, Newcastle host Penrith while South Sydney meet the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium.

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