What’s the matter, Parramatta?

Mary Konstantopoulos Columnist

By Mary Konstantopoulos, Mary Konstantopoulos is a Roar Expert

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104 Have your say

    The Parramatta Eels will not win the Premiership in 2018.

    Well… at least according to the statistics.

    History tells us that in 109 years of rugby league in Australia, no team has won a first-grade grand final after conceding 50 points in a match during the season, and after the Eels’ 54-0 loss to the Manly Sea Eagles yesterday, I’m not sure that Parramatta have the ability to be the first team to do so.

    Yesterday, I drove for over an hour to sit in 40-plus degree heat and watch my team lose by over 50 points. It doesn’t get much tougher as a fan than that.

    But after two rounds of footy which have seen the Eels lose to the Panthers 24-14 and then to the Sea Eagles 54-0, I have more questions than answers.

    I cannot put my finger on what is going wrong for Parramatta at the moment, but there are some deeply concerning signs.

    Let’s start with ill discipline. Yesterday the Eels conceded 12 penalties. Most of these came very late in the tackle count, which made it exceptionally easy for Manly to make their way down the field, particularly with a forward pack that was absolutely dominant.

    The Eels did not help themselves at all, seeing very little football in the first ten minutes after conceding a penalty from Manly’s first touch of the game. The Sea Eagles played clever footy which saw them get repeat sets, including a 40/20, and also get the footy back after scoring points.

    In the heat, the Eels’ high defensive load took its toll. When the score was 18-0, the Eels had already made 69 tackles to Manly’s 14.

    We can also talk about just really dumb football which saw the Eels bundled into touch on at least three occasions. Almost every time the Eels got the footy in the first half, they looked determined to make a stupid mistake or play silly football which gave possession straight back to the Sea Eagles, who were absolutely relentless in attack.

    Jake Trbojevic

    (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

    It was also one of those afternoons when everything that could go wrong for Parramatta did. Cameron King went off after 60 minutes after suffering a sickening head knock and Mitchell Moses was sent to the sin bin for the second week in a row for backchat.

    I asked social media for answers.

    Some suggested the Eels looked unfit.

    Others suggested that Jarryd Hayne and Moses had infected the Eels dressing shed with some sort of ‘poison’.

    Then there were the usual accusations of no heart and no effort.

    None of these reasons quite cut it for me.

    Something that Peter Sterling said in the off-season has stuck with me: Parramatta should not have spent precious cap space on Jarryd Hayne, but should have instead bought forwards.

    The more I watch the Eels, the more I agree.

    Please don’t take this view as an attack on Jarryd Hayne.

    I am more than comfortable with the decision to bring him back, but another back was not what Parramatta needed. We already have too many, including Kirisome Auv’a, Josh Hoffman, Will Smith, Bevan French and Clint Gutherson.

    Even if we did need another back, we needed forwards more. I was reminded of this again when I saw the Eels forward pack getting absolutely dominated.

    Incredibly, Jorge Taufua’s try in the 79th minute was the first from any of Manly’s backline, with five members of their pack crossing for four pointers, including a double for Curtis Sironen.

    Parramatta simply could not match or keep up with the go-forward of the Sea Eagles.

    I also fundamentally underestimated what a big loss Semi Radradra would be. I thought the squad could cover it, but this was naivete on my part.

    Parramatta Eels winger Semi Radradra

    (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

    In 2017, Radradra scored 20 tries and would take on average 13 hit ups per game, making 146 running metres. He was effectively another forward. The Eels are really missing his go-forward and ability to produce something out of nothing this year.

    Something needs to change and it needs to change quickly.

    As a fan, I choose not to point fingers or play the blame game, but I will not tolerate another performance like that next week. It’s simply not good enough for a team that finished fourth last year and was tipped by many to go all the way this year.

    There are still 23 rounds of football and I would be a much fickler fan if I wrote the Eels season off completely after two games.

    After yesterday though, I am convinced that the footy gods are the cruellest gods of all.

    It’s not been easy going as an Eels fan over the last 20 years.

    Who would have thought that just one premiership was too much to ask?

    If early signs are any indication, it won’t be the Eels year this year, but just like any good fan I’ll comfort myself in the knowledge that there’s always next year.

    Mary Konstantopoulos
    Mary Konstantopoulos

    Mary Konstantopoulos is a lawyer, sports advocate and proud owner and founder of the Ladies Who empire, including Ladies who League, Ladies who Legspin, Ladies who Lineout and Ladies who Leap. You can find her podcast on iTunes and find her on Twitter @mary__kaye and @ladieswholeague.

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    The Crowd Says (104)

    • March 19th 2018 @ 6:52am
      Concussed said | March 19th 2018 @ 6:52am | ! Report

      I thought the manly halves who play in their backline both touched down well before the 79th minute.

      Also what was the actual penalty count? If parra conceded 12 I think manly had more.

      • March 19th 2018 @ 7:02am
        Busty McCracken said | March 19th 2018 @ 7:02am | ! Report

        ^ fair call but I think the point was mainly manlys points were all scored through the middle of the field. Manlys tries bar tafua were all scored within metres of the goal post, flattering DCE’s actual goal kicking ability.

    • March 19th 2018 @ 6:59am
      Busty McCracken said | March 19th 2018 @ 6:59am | ! Report

      My poor paramatta loving brother was also subjected to 80 minutes of torture in the heat yesterday also. I was expecting Parra to beat us once again as they have done so many times lately so was pleasntly surprised with the scoreline.

      I still rate your team and believe in Arthur as a coach so put it down to a horror start against an opposition where everything they touched turned to gold in stifling heat for the 2nd week in a row. Could very well be the making of their season. Keep the faith mate.

    • March 19th 2018 @ 7:10am
      Duncan Smith said | March 19th 2018 @ 7:10am | ! Report

      Don’t worry Mary, I remember the Bulldogs lost 30-0 early last season to Manly at Brookvale and look the Dogs’ season ended up …

      Seriously though, Manly on their day are unbeatable at Brookvale and maybe that hiding will really focus the Eels for the rest of the year.

    • March 19th 2018 @ 7:11am
      Kayne said | March 19th 2018 @ 7:11am | ! Report

      Ah the mantra we Parra fans know all too well……… “there’s always next year”.

    • March 19th 2018 @ 7:23am
      jimmmy said | March 19th 2018 @ 7:23am | ! Report

      I think you are on to something there Mary. The Parra forwards looked ordinary to me. Hayne will not be worth what they paid for him. His heart is not in it anymore.
      Having said that , Parra are still a big chance for the eight . Fans like you deserve a few wins soon.

      • Columnist

        March 19th 2018 @ 2:11pm
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | March 19th 2018 @ 2:11pm | ! Report

        Thanks, Jimmy. Appreciate it.

        I’m not going to be too hard on Jarryd too early – I haven’t seen any evidence so far that he is the problem, so I am still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

        • March 19th 2018 @ 3:17pm
          Albo said | March 19th 2018 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

          Mary , it is way too early in the season to slash your wrists over your team. This was just one of those games that was over after 10 minutes, simply through a great kick off ( quickly becoming one of the best attacking weapons in our game today, thanks Kyle) , a couple of penalties and 10 minutes of DCE brilliance, to quickly deliver 18 – 0 score line and the game was over ! What followed was Manly flying high with confidence, Parra trying to play catch up leading to more errors, the heat sapping the defences and a cricket score ensued. We all know just how hard it is to swing the momentum away from a team in charge of things. In 40 degree heat is virtually impossible.
          But in saying all that, I do agree with P Sterling, that the Eels pack, whilst it generally has a go, scares no other pack, and it is hard to see them dominating enough to give their handy backs a good run of momentum to attack. They do need to bolster the pack with a few titan types. Add to that the loss of Semi, the queries over whether Moses & Norman really compliment each other, the queries over the 1 and 9 spots , the query over Hayne , and I think the Eels will more than likely struggle this season , after their great over achieving effort of last year.

        • March 19th 2018 @ 6:00pm
          madmax said | March 19th 2018 @ 6:00pm | ! Report

          Mary, i’m a Manly supporter & did not expect the final scoreline, although I did believe Manly would win. I also believe it will be Cronulla that is 0-3 when your team play them next week!

    • March 19th 2018 @ 7:33am
      qwetzen said | March 19th 2018 @ 7:33am | ! Report

      “It’s not been easy going as an Eels fan over the last 20 years.”

      Eh? Did Parra win a flag post-1986 that I missed?

      • Columnist

        March 19th 2018 @ 9:32am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | March 19th 2018 @ 9:32am | ! Report

        I should have made that clearer – I have only been supporting the Eels for 20 years. 🙂

      • March 19th 2018 @ 10:40am
        Johnny Tran said | March 19th 2018 @ 10:40am | ! Report

        There is no ‘flag’ in RL. Go back to Aerial Ping Pong

        • Roar Guru

          March 19th 2018 @ 12:22pm
          JamesH said | March 19th 2018 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

          I always thought aerial ping pong was a bizarre sledge, since ping pong requires you to hit the ball in the air… a bit like saying ‘wet swimming’.

        • March 19th 2018 @ 12:55pm
          kk said | March 19th 2018 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

          There was a Rugby League Premiership pennant.

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