Sivo in limbo as Eels’ new edge impresses Arthur

Jasper Bruce |

Bailey Simonsson had a fine game on the wing for the Eels in their win over North Queensland.
Bailey Simonsson had a fine game on the wing for the Eels in their win over North Queensland.

Maika Sivo could have his work cut out breaking back into first grade after Brad Arthur indicated Parramatta’s new left edge would stay in place next week.

Under pressure following back-to-back losses without halfback Mitch Moses, Arthur was vindicated in his decision to reconfigure his Eels team, who ran out 27-20 winners over North Queensland on Saturday.

Arthur brought Daejarn Asi in to play five-eighth in place of rookie Blaize Talagi, shifted halfback Dylan Brown onto the right edge, and rolled out a new-look combination on the left, with Morgan Harper playing centre and Bailey Simonsson starting on the wing.

Maika Sivo might have his work cut out breaking back into Eels’ first tream. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

The moves largely paid off; with the halves combination coming to life in the second half to orchestrate the Eels’ last two tries and a vital win.

Harper had his defensive struggles at centre when caught out ahead of Tom Chester’s try, but struck back with a four-pointer of his own after he pounced on Brown’s kick after the break.

Simonsson and Harper were targeted by the Cowboys all day but the Eels showed new-found defensive resilience to keep the NRL’s most prolific team to their second-lowest total through six rounds.

“I thought they did a really good job,” Arthur said of his new left edge.

“We had some teething issues there on one or two but when you’re playing against a team that are at you all the time and they’re a threat, it’s hard work. 

“They’ve got a split second to make a decision: Do we jam, or do we hold? Overall with the amount of footy they threw at us, I thought they did a really good job.”

Simonsson and Harper’s gain is likely to be Sivo’s loss. 

The Fijian veteran lasted only two games in first grade after returning from suspension in round four, looking below his damaging best in those two losses.

Sivo scored two tries for Parramatta in the 30-28 NSW Cup win over North Sydney on Saturday.

But Arthur confirmed he thought Simonsson and Harper were capable of helping the Eels continue their winning ways against the Dolphins next Friday.

“I’d need to go back and watch it but they did the job for me tonight, why can’t they?” he said.