Eels smash Raiders to book NRL prelim spot

·3-min read

Parramatta have exorcised their NRL finals demons to book a spot in their first preliminary final in 13 years with a 40-4 win demolition of Canberra.

The Eels burst out of the blocks in front of a 29,134 strong crowd at CommBank Stadium and never looked back after registering a 22-point lead inside 25 minutes.

The Eels' unflattering record under coach Brad Arthur - they had won just two of nine finals games in his tenure before Friday night's game - had been a big talking point after their week-one loss to the Panthers.

But they showed no signs of nerves with their premiership hopes on the line, reverting to their powerful and direct running game.

They will now travel to Townsville to take on North Queensland next Friday night, chasing their first grand final appearance since 2009.

"I'm proud for the boys and happy for our club," said Arthur.

"But the job's not finished, we have a big week ahead of us and we're looking forward to it.

"We went out tonight and backed ourselves and went after it.

"Against Penrith we were a bit tentative and didn't play to our strengths but tonight we were a team who went after the game."

The only slight concern for the Eels will be a head knock to Mitchell Moses, who was ruled out during last week's loss to Penrith with a concussion.

Moses went off for a head injury assessment in the second half but was given the all-clear to return and should be right for the game with the Cowboys.

"There was a lot of talk about him (Moses) not being able to handle the pressure but I think he showed he can handle the pressure tonight," Arthur said.

The Eels hit Canberra up the middle and offloaded at will - they had 20 offloads to the Raiders' 10 - before picking holes in their opponents' leaky edge defence.

Aside from the loss of back-rower Corey Harawira-Naera to an early concussion, the Raiders were architects of their own downfall.

Early Raiders errors led to early tries to Parramatta's Will Penisini and Tom Opacic and Canberra lost the battle for territory and possession.

Moses, who kicked five from seven conversions and added a late penalty goal, soon sent a spiralling cut-out pass for Waqa Blake to waltz in untouched on the right flank with 20 minutes gone.

Prop Junior Paulo was next to go over for the Eels and Canberra could count themselves lucky that Parramatta duo Clint Gutherson and Maika Sivo had tries chalked off.

Only a breakaway try for Xavier Savage prevented the Raiders from being held to nil as they trailed 22-4 at half-time.

"We weren't good enough," said Canberra coach Ricky Stuart.

"They were far superior and they were on tonight.

"They got us early and when you've got 30 to 40 per cent of the football (it's hard) playing against a team like that."

Canberra needed to score first after half-time but when Paulo offloaded to Moses to race home just five minutes after the break, it was curtains for Stuart's side.

With Moses off for a head injury assessment, the Eels lost their way with the ball in hand but they were still able to withhold everything Canberra threw at them.

Marata Niukore, who was filling in at centre after Opacic went off with a hamstring injury, scored a late double to seal the rout.