James Hooper live blog, NRL finals, Brad Arthur, preview

It’s not quite Ding Dong the witch is dead but the Parramatta Eels’ performance on Friday night pulled a big gorilla off coach Brad Arthur’s back.

The Eels entered the playoff semi-final against the Raiders under all sorts of pressure but emerged with their reputation intact as Parramatta progressed to the club’s first preliminary final since 2009.

Parramatta’s performance was super impressive as the Eels charged the collision and were super physical against the Raiders before tearing them apart after 19 offloads, Dylan Brown’s running game and Mitchell Moses’ kicking game.


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The Eels forwards also showed they had the firepower to match it with the best teams in the final with the front line pair of Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Junior Paulo getting a clear decision on the form props of the LNR to Joseph Tapine. and Josh Papali’i.

Arthur’s decision to start the game with Marata Niukore at lock and move Ryan Matterson to the bench showed the Eels’ intention from the start was to take the Raiders down the middle and take risks with offloads.

Parramatta came into the game under huge pressure following an elite lanes report on how club sides Harold Matthews, SG Ball and Jersey Flegg are going through the NRL, explosively claiming that he There was an element of ‘nepotism’ around the selections of the club’s players and staff.

But the siege mentality worked perfectly for the Eels as they ambushed the in-form Green Machine and booked a trip to Townsville to face the Cowboys on Friday night.

Make no mistake, the Eels needed this win like oxygen. Had they made another week two finals, it would have been a brutal postmortem on the blue and gold season.

The Raiders looked like a side that had played their grand final a week earlier against the Melbourne Storm with the Green Machine unable to recover from a few costly mistakes early on.

It was an outstanding end-of-season run from Canberra, but you can’t afford to make mistakes in big games and the Eels certainly didn’t need to be asked twice when it came to capitalize on the big moments.


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How good is the Grand Final rematch on Saturday night after South Sydney easily represented a disappointing Cronulla side in the other elimination semi-final.

There is certainly no shortage of stories when the Panthers host Souths at the Accor Stadium.

The best thing about the way the Rabbitohs are playing right now is that it looks like they still have plenty of room to kick in a few more gears.

Souths and Cronulla had 13 errors apiece and completion rates weren’t a strong suit, but the Bunnies still had far too much punching power for a Sharks side exiting the final in straight sets after finishing second at the end of the regular season.

For the Sharks, it seemed the criticisms of the club’s draw throughout the regular season were accurate, as they were outscored across the park against South Sydney.

It’s going to be a long offseason for Craig Fitzgibbon and the Sharks as they reflect on how they went from under 15 seconds after reaching a preliminary final to going out the back door in straight sets.

What do you like or dislike about Week 2 of the Finals as we prepare to see who will qualify for the first weekend of October?