Parramatta coach Brad Arthur isn’t one for moral victories, but he saw enough positives in Thursday’s opening-night NRL loss to Brisbane to be a believer.
The highly-anticipated Kieran Foran-era got off to a false start against the Broncos, with the main star a late withdrawal due to a lingering hamstring issue.
And when halves partner Corey Norman didn’t come out of the sheds at halftime because of a neck problem, suddenly this new-looking Eels outfit began to look remarkably old.
Despite that setback Arthur’s men showed enough resilience to limit the competition favourites to just two points in the second half and, in the end, the final 17-4 scoreline didn’t reflect how hard they fought.
“The good aspects were, even at the end we were completing at 50 per cent and were a bit all over the shop with our attack, that could have got a lot worse for us and it has in the past,” Arthur said.
“We got loose through the middle but we kept turning up and scrambling and our attitude was okay in defence. It wasn’t perfect in terms of our tackling but it could have got a lot worse.”
On a humid night at Pirtek Stadium, the Eels tired quickly in the second half, turning over half the ball they received and looked devoid of fifth tackle options.
But even when the game looked out of reach, the hosts never folded.
And they even could’ve made a contest of it had Michael Jennings’ not promoted the ball over the line, resulting in a double movement.
“It might have been the bit of energy that we needed,” Arthur said.
All Parramatta needed was a touch of class, but it was sitting idle on the sidelines.
Arthur said Foran was likely to return for next week’s clash against defending premiers North Queensland.
“We watched him run (on Thursday). He’ll run Saturday. The guys are telling me he’s right to go,” he said.
The Eels will also be sweating on scans for Norman, who face-planted after tripping over a teammate in an awkward but legal Josh McGuire tackle late in the first half.
He was immediately taken to hospital.
“The doc said it’s just a precaution and if the scans come back like they think they will, he should be right for next week,” Arthur said.