Nervous Parramatta face burden of history
Posted on 04/25/20 7:46 PM
Parramatta and coach Brad Arthur are up against it to make the NRL finals after a 0-5 start to 2018.Parramatta’s attack asked plenty of questions of opposition defences in 2017, but this season they are asking more questions of themselves as they look to overturn 19 years of NRL history.
The Eels sunk to their fifth straight loss to the start the season in Sunday’s defeat to Penrith, meaning they are now aiming to become the first team since Brisbane in 1999 to fight back from a 0-5 start to make the finals.
At the heart of the Eels’ issues on Sunday was their attack.
While their defence leaked points over the opening month of the competition, the Eels had 37 play-the-balls inside the Panthers’ 20-metre zone but could covert just one into a try – and even that was from a kick.
Coach Brad Arthur admits he believes his team’s inability to fire a shot is largely because last year’s finalists are nervous and worried in attack after their lacklustre start to the season.
“At times like this you’re a bit nervous,” he said.
“Do we make the pass or don’t we? Do we offload the footy or don’t we? We just need to relax a little and make those plays and back ourselves a bit more. But it’s easier said than done.
“I’m not going to be critical of that part of it. They chance their hand and turn the ball over and we’re none from five with completion and putting ourselves under pressure.
“When you’re chasing victory the last thing you want to do is turn the ball over. So I can understand where the players are at. We’ve just got to chase it a bit more and back ourselves a bit more.”
Most frustrating for Arthur will have been the fact so many of their 12 incomplete sets came in good attacking opportunities.
On one occasion winger Josh Hoffman dropped a pass with the line wide open. Twice outside backs ran out of room and were forced into touch just short of the line.
“When you’re confident and put those plays on they stick,” Arthur said.
“When you’re playing well it will stick. But we’ve just got to stay in the fight. It will turn but it’s become pretty desperate now.”