The Bulldogs fluffed their way around ANZ Stadium on Thursday night against Parramatta and have tasted defeat for the fourteenth time this season.
The Eels held out for a hard fought 14-8 victory in front of a disappointing crowd of 8,437 on what was a pleasant night to attend a rugby league match in Sydney. The relative positions of the two teams on the ladder undoubtedly kept many away, with both Parramatta and Bulldogs fans slowly but surely losing will as the season drags through the winter months.
Both teams now sit on ten competition points; mired to the bottom rung of the ladder and only for and against sees the Bulldogs keep their head above both the Eels and the Cowboys in the race to avoid the wooden spoon.
However, Thursday night was a celebration for the Eels and their two tries to one victory may have been one well below the standard being shown by the top teams in the competition, but wins are wins, and Parramatta will take the two points with glee.
In an apt moment, Kerrod Holland opened the scoring for the Bulldogs with a try under the posts after seven minutes. It was to be the only Bulldog four-pointer for the night and came from a clunky and broken attacking opportunity without fluency or precision. It was to set the tone for the blue and whites for the remainder of the night.
Parramatta levelled with a try to Kaysa Pritchard in the 35th minute and Mitchell Moses’ conversion saw the teams enter the half time break at six all. The Bulldogs had plenty of ball yet failed to build any sustained pressure on the Eels with atrocious sixth tackle options that turned the ball over meekly to the blue and golds.
At times there was an embarrassment about the attack and despite the efforts of captain Josh Jackson, David Klemmer and Aiden Tolman up front, it all came to nothing with consistently appalling attacking choices made by the play makers.
The Eels crossed for their second try in the 13th minute of the second half and with an additional Mitchell Moses penalty goal after seventy minutes, the lead looked match winning. A late penalty goal to Canterbury that brought them within six and set them up for a final foray at the Eels line was somewhat comical, considering their inability to cross the line since the early try to Holland.
There were a few desperate moments for the Eels near the end yet they held on for the victory against a Bulldogs team that looked dysfunctional on the night. Coach Dean Pay will need to energise his attack through the week if they are any chance to claim a win against the Tigers at ANZ next weekend; a team that generally defends well without scoring many points of their own.
It was a sad night for the Bulldogs despite the spirit shown. It is the one positive that can be taken from season 2018.
Parramatta Eels 14 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 8
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