Friday, 4 May 2012
Parramatta's dismal NRL season hit a new low on Friday night as a Josh Morris-inspired
Canterbury cantered to a 46-12 win at ANZ Stadium.
The defeat ensured the Eels are off to their worst start to a season in 52 years, to heap more pressure on beleaguered coach Stephen Kearney.
John F Kennedy was running for the US presidency the last time a Parramatta side lost eight of their first nine games of a season, with Morris bagging his 50th try in Bulldogs colours on the way to his second hat-trick of the year.
Morris opened the scoring in the 13th minute after Ben Barba wriggled past Willie Tonga and teed up his onrushing centre.
The Eels' response was good as they completed their opening 13 sets and looked positive in attack.
Ryan Morgan pounced onto a high kick from Casey McGuire in the 19th minute to score and young winger Ken Sio then crossed for the fourth time this season following a clever grubber-kick from Jarryd Hayne.
However, all of the hosts' good work unravelled five minutes before halftime when the Bulldogs ran in three quick-fire tries through Morris, Tim Lafai and Dene Halatau.
All three four-pointers stemmed from Parramatta errors, with former NSW prop Justin Poore and fellow front-rower Mitchell Allgood conceding soft penalties that presented coach Des Hasler's side with great field position.
And former Kiwi Test utility Halatau waltzed through some powder-puff defence to score, seconds before the siren sounded to give his side a 22-12 lead at the break.
The second half began with Allgood dropping the ball from the kick-off, and although the Bulldogs failed to capitalise, McGuire knocked-on in the following set and the visitors ran down the field and scored through Josh Reynolds.
The young playmaker has been tipped as NSW bolter, and he did his State of Origin aspirations no harm with a superb kick and chase before diving in front of Jarryd Hayne to score.
That try snuffed out any of the Eels' remaining confidence as the Bulldogs stepped up a gear, with forwards, Sam Kasiano, James Graham and Frank Pritchard dominating.
A Kasiano pass found former Eel Kris Keating 11 minutes after the break, and his kick forward was pounced upon by Morris, who outpaced Chris Sandow to complete his treble.
Another Parramatta reject, Jonathan Wright then compounded his former club's misery with a seventh four-pointer just after the hour-mark, with Bryson Goodwin adding another late in the game, before adding his seventh goal of the game from the sideline.
The win ended a run of three straight losses for Des Hasler's side.
Kearney slammed his side's second-half display, and made the startling accusation that some of his players lacked the toughness required at NRL level.
The Eels coach said he was pleased with how his side started the game, completing 15 of 15 sets, but said he was alarmed with how they fell away.
"We should have gone in at halftime ahead not 10 points behind," Kearney said.
"The second half was pretty average. We lack the toughness to be able to come through a setback.
"I think when teams play against us ... they just think 'we just have to hang in there and they'll self-destruct.'
"For me that's as plain as it gets. We've got to toughen up and be able to push through those periods."
Bulldogs coach Hasler was pleased to see his side end a run of three successive losses and said he expected a strong start from the Eels, but felt his team were always in control.
"We knew that they'd start pretty quickly, and they did that," he said.
"I think they went 15-from-15 with their possession and they were playing good footy.
"They kicked us to death early but the boys showed a lot of character in being able to claw their way back in and bounce back to play some really good footy."
The former Manly mentor was also pleased with the way his side bounced back from recent physical encounters against his former club and Melbourne.
"It's been a pretty tough month of football, we've been involved in some pretty tight tussles," he said.
"Those of you who witnessed those games would have realised they were tough games of footy and physically taxing."