Parramatta’s 28-20 NRL finals win over Newcastle kept their 2021 season alive but Brad Arthur knows there’s plenty of improvement to make going into Saturday’s clash with Penrith.
Arthur has never reached a preliminary final in his time as Eels coach and is adamant his team cannot allow their opponents back into the contest like they did against the Knights if they’re to go beyond the second week of finals this year.
Parramatta were cruising to victory with a 12-point lead early in the second half at Browne Park before the Knights scored two quick tries to narrow that margin to just two points with 20 minutes to play.
Only when centre Will Penisini was awarded a penalty try in the 76th minute did the Eels finally finish off the Knights.
A similar display in Mackay this weekend against a Panthers team smarting from their shock loss to South Sydney is unlikely to end so well for Arthur’s team.
“When we’ve got them at that 22-10, nail those opportunities and just be smarter,” Arthur said.
“Have a bit more footy awareness and footy sense on a couple of things in the game because I feel like a couple of ill-discipline (moments) gave them good field position but I thought overall, we dominated the field position that was what we needed to do.”
In good news for the Eels on Monday morning, Marata Niukora and Junior Paulo both avoided suspension after being placed on report for separate incidents against the Knights.
Niukora and Paulo have both been fined and will be free to face the Panthers.
Newcastle’s Sauaso Sue is set to miss the opening weeks of next season after being hit with a grade two dangerous contact charge.
Sue was placed on report after twisting the right leg of Blake Ferguson in a tackle, an incident which forced the veteran Eels winger to leave the field to get his knee strapped before returning to play out the match.
Sue will miss the Knights’ first two matches of 2022 with a guilty plea and risks a three-game ban if he unsuccessfully challenges the charge.