Gritty Parramatta Eels shut out weakened Storm

first_imgRugby League Melbourne were held scoreless for the first time in six years in a 14-0 loss to Parramatta at Bankwest Stadium last night and will be desperate for some troops to return next week with up to five more players potentially set for stints on the sidelines. Of most concern is hooker Brandon Smith, who left the field late clutching his jaw, while five-eighth Ryley Jacks also went down with a hip injury. The Storm could well be the first team to fall foul of a crusher tackle crackdown, with debutant half Cooper Johns and bench forward Albert Vete placed on report in the first half. Even a grade one charge would mean a suspension under the new guidelines while the club could also be without Nelson Asofa-Solomona, who was sin-binned for a shoulder hit to the face of Marata Niukore and faces a nervous wait for the match review committee charge sheet. The Eels bounced back well from last week’s loss to the Dragons, coughing up plenty of ball with adventurous play but defending brilliantly and finding two tries in a largely dominant display. Back-rower Ryan Matterson was heavily involved in his return from injury. “We knew we had to defend well and it’s been a focus for us for a while now,” Eels coach Brad Arthur said. “We haven’t done a great deal of work at training with the ball and I reckon it’s showing a bit but we have to make sure we can defend long periods and trust our systems and we’re getting better at it.” Storm coach Craig Bellamy also praised the Eels’ defence. “We went close to jagging a try early and then we had two or three chances and probably didn’t get the timing quite right,” Bellamy said. “Parramatta tackled really well without a doubt. I thought our guys did too.” The Eels were frantic early, conceding possession several times with some wayward passes and handing the Storm some attacking chances but did well to hold their line as the absence of Melbourne’s playmaking stars proved crucial. An astute Gutherson challenge when he was originally pinged for taking Papenhuyzen’s legs out under a kick found an escort from Johns and allowed Moses to open the scoring with a penalty goal after 15 minutes. An offside penalty received in the next set carried the Eels back up-field for Ryan Matterson to produce a pearler of an offload for Waqa Blake to nab the first try of the match. – nrl.comlast_img

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