Under-fire Eels pack answers the critics
PARRAMATTA'S forward pack have bitten back at their critics after their 34-point flogging of Manly.
Beaten from pillar to post during the winless six-week run to start the season, the Eels dominated field position and the middle in their drought-breaking 44-10 win at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
Under-fire co-captain Tim Mannah led the way with 162 metres, as one of four separate Parramatta big men to reach three figures. In comparison, no Manly player reached that mark.
David Gower also impressed in his first game back in the team with 110 metres and one offload, Manu Ma'u scored once and Suaia Matagi was rock solid in his first game starting since mid last year.
But Gower said the Eels' forwards couldn't be blamed for all Parramatta's early- season woes.
"We wanted to come back and answer a few critics," Gower said. "But at the same time when you have possession it gives the whole forward pack an ability to run.
"When you're making 100-plus extra tackles every week it takes it toll, especially on the guys in the middle.
"You give away penalties and you give away tries when you're under fatigue. "Go and ask Manly and how they feel today when they made 100-plus extra tackles, I'm sure their middle was exhausted." Coach Brad Arthur backed up the veteran's statement, after the number of changes he made to the team's pack appeared to pay off.
Parramatta's 84-point turnaround on Manly from their 54-0 flogging in round two symbolised their change in fortunes, and was the biggest head-to-head turnaround for any club in 16 years.
"We didn't have to make 400 tackles today so that helps," Arthur said of his forwards.
"It's all relative to the amount of work you've got to do defensively. And then when you have the ball you don't have the same energy." Arthur said he'd noticed a change of his players at training last Thursday, following the toughest opposed session of the year.
At the time, co-captain Clinton Gutherson admitted there'd almost been a blue, while prop Kane Evans highlighted Jarryd Hayne and Daniel Alvaro's fire in the session, while Mannah had also been left bleeding.
"But it was halfway through our main session and something just clicked," Arthur said.
"They had a gutful of each other and just ripped in.
"We had some staff that wanted to pull it up, because it was getting very competitive. But it was exactly what we needed."