Eels slump to another loss as Mam stars for Broncos

Scott Bailey |

Reece Walsh starred as Brisbane extended parramatta’s pain at a wet Commbank Stadium.
Reece Walsh starred as Brisbane extended parramatta’s pain at a wet Commbank Stadium.

Parramatta are hanging on to hope that Mitch Moses will return for Magic Round after slumping to another loss without their halfback in a 30-14 defeat to Brisbane.

With both Moses and fullback Clint Gutherson missing, the Eels had all the ball and far better chances than their rivals at CommBank Stadium.

But ultimately they were undone by Brisbane’s speed and the class of Ezra Mam, leaving them with one win from six games since Moses hurt his foot in round three.

Moses is considered “touch and go” for next Sunday’s clash with Melbourne, with Parramatta waiting to see how he trains in coming days.

The Eels and under-fire coach Brad Arthur could desperately do with his return, as Parramatta missed their halfback’s polish on Friday night.

They had 23 tackles on Brisbane’s line in the first half alone, but could only net one try through fill-in fullback Blaize Talagi.

Brisbane had no ball on Parramatta’s line in that period, but still went to the break up 18-8.

Twelve of those points came directly from Eels errors, with the Broncos twice going 80 metres against the run of play through Reece Walsh and then Deine Mariner.

Selwyn Cobbo.
Selwyn Cobbo was among the scorers as the Broncos went to fifth on the ladder. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

“We probably killed ourselves a bit,” Eels coach Brad Arthur said.

“I would like to know how many tries we bombed tonight, we created plenty but we didn’t just finish them off.

“We had a couple where we came up with the wrong pass, and they go length of the field and score.

“Definitely Mitch’s polish will help, with a bit of confidence. But when one of those balls bounce our way we’ll get a bit of confidence.”

The second half was the same story.

Parramatta scored first when Dylan Brown pulled off a one-on-one strip on Mariner and dived straight over to make it 18-14.

The Eels also missed chances when Talagi was denied through an obstruction, while he and centre Will Penisini dropped balls close to the line.

But even with halfback Adam Reynolds missing due to a biceps rupture, Kevin Walters’ men can score off just the sniff of a chance.

Billy Walters.
Bronco Billy Walters went off after aggravating a wrist injury. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

Mam landed the crucial blow to make it 24-14 when he chipped-and-chased over Kelma Tuilagi and wrong-footed Talagi in the 52nd minute.

Brisbane’s next try a few sets later was almost just as good and put the game beyond doubt.

When Walsh drove a low kick across the field, Selwyn Cobbo didn’t give up on the chase and got the ball down within centimetres of the dead-ball line.

Walters still isn’t sold on how his team is structured in attack, but they continue to score points from anywhere.

“Our try-line attack against opposition isn’t that great, that’s something that we need to get better at,” Walters said. 

“I can’t be critical of it because we have great talent, and I want that to be expressed on the field.

“But our structure can be better, and how we structure our attack to score points. I thought we made some real progress there tonight.”

The Broncos’ victory did come at some cost, with hooker Billy Walters aggravating a left wrist injury early and in doubt to face Manly next week.

But after last week’s hammering from the Sydney Roosters, the Broncos again proved able to operate with a key cog missing as they went fifth on the ladder.

It’s the kind of situation Arthur could only dream of right now, with his team 3-6 to start the season and down in 13th spot.

AAP