Gutsy Eels win plaudits but not semi-final

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Brad Arthur has praised Parramatta's valiant effort and declared this year's NRL semi-finals exit is different to their past three falls at the same hurdle.

The Eels succumbed in the second week of the finals again on Saturday night, with their 8-6 loss to Penrith coming in the lowest-scoring game of the year.

But while their past three exits have come in disappointing fashion, the Eels were gutsy as they held off several Panthers attacking raids before missing their own chances late.

"I can't ask any more from them tonight," Arthur said.

"Maybe in the past we could have done better, but I thought we played pretty well tonight.

"I was pretty proud of the boys tonight. I don't know if we deserved that result, but that's footy, that's the way it goes.

"A lot of disappointed players in the dressing room, they're shattered. They wanted that."

The next few months now shape as crucial for both Arthur and the Eels.

Arthur is off-contract at the end of next year, and pressure intensified on his position amid a four-game losing streak earlier this year as they fell out of the top four.

The Eels coach swatted away talk about his future on Saturday night, after making a point during the week that four trips to the semi-final is a positive record.

"It's been eight years there has been talk about me," Arthur said.

"It's not about me. It's about the club and the team. That's part of my job as a coach."

But Arthur did praise the way his side had recovered from the late form slump to beat Newcastle in week one of the finals and push Penrith.

"It was a good testament to their character," Arthur said.

"That's what was talked about (in the dressing sheds). We dug a bit of a hole and we dug our way out of it.

"If you haven't got a strong group or a strong club that doesn't happen."

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