Canberra’s kids slice up Parramatta for comfortable win

Alex Mitchell |

Canberra celebrate after a try to Xavier Savage in their big NRL win over Parramatta.
Canberra celebrate after a try to Xavier Savage in their big NRL win over Parramatta.

Canberra’s young talents have put in a stellar shift to get their NRL campaign back on track, thrashing Parramatta 41-8 at GIO Stadium.

Novice half Ethan Strange starred with two try assists in the best performance of his six-game career, with a dazzling 70m try from emerging winger Xavier Savage helping the Raiders take control on Sunday night.

It was the perfect response to their dismal loss to Cronulla last weekend when they threw away an 18-0 lead, with fellow outside backs Matt Timoko (two tries, nine tackle busts) and James Schiller (four line breaks, one try) also cashing in.

But it was a dismal effort from the Eels after their upset loss to the Wests Tigers last time out, sliced up by the Raiders’ outside backs to concede a succession of long-range tries.

The Eels look all at sea without the services of halfback Mitchell Moses. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur, who labelled last week’s loss “soft”, didn’t think intensity was what let them down in the capital.

“(Conceding) 41 points is not great, but I didn’t think it was effort-based or soft … 10-3 penalty count (and) we had four sets attacking the try-line in the first half and made four errors,” he said.

“You’re not building pressure on the opposition when you do that. 

“We’ve just got to be better at those fundamentals, being consistent … from there we drop our heads a bit and it sort of snowballs out of control.

“What we need to do is make sure we look at that (and) flush it, but we need 17 players that are going to own their moments in the game.”

Strange started the rout by busting three tackles to break the line and create for Sebastian Kris, although his second assist was as simple as passing the ball to Savage and getting out of the way.

Savage’s elite pace helped him burn off Parramatta’s defenders for his fourth try in five games to put the Raiders’ 12-0 clear.

Timoko produced his own highlight reel moment, flashing his elite strength to power over the line despite Eels defender Dylan Brown clinging to his back.

Schiller, hooker Danny Levi and second-rower Hudson Young added tries as the Raiders purred their way to a 35-4 lead.

Canberra’s win came despite injury carnage, highlighted by the re-emergence of a meniscus ailment to veteran back Jordan Rapana.

The 34-year-old left the contest on four minutes, forcing centre Sebastian Kris to play fullback until he returned in the second half, although he was repeatedly in the hands of the trainer after experiencing more discomfort.

Queensland State of Origin prop Corey Horsburgh also exited early, due to an abdominal strain.

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart indicated the scintillating performance almost added to the frustration of last weekend’s error-fest against the Sharks.

“The reason I get so cranky after games (like) last week is because I know what they can do, I know what sort of football team I’ve got,” he said.

“If we weren’t a good team it wouldn’t bother me as much. All week we’ve spoken about what’s going to be their reaction, and now I’ve got to give them credit.”