Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has taken a stunning swipe at his players after Friday night's come-from-behind win against the Brisbane Broncos.
The Eels were ordinary in the first half at Suncorp Stadium, completing just 10 of 19 sets as last year's wooden spooners ran in three tries to lead 16-0.
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Once they found their feet the Eels did enough to prevail 24-16 in an entertaining, end-to-end game that saw Brisbane finish the match down three players.
Arthur's side have been touted as one of the premiership favourites but they looked anything but in the first half against a Broncos outfit that finished 2020 as the team with the worst attack and defence in the NRL.
Speaking after the match, Arthur said his side was "nowhere near" where he expected them to be and blamed the players for not respecting their opponents.
“We just needed to respect the opposition a bit more,” Arthur said of the Eels’ first-half performance.
“I’m a little bit annoyed that we didn’t show them enough respect early or in the first half. I don’t want us to be a team like that.
“We just thought we could pass our way, instead of working hard.”
The Eels coach conceded that Brisbane "did a really good job" but warned his troops that they'll need to show significant improvement for next week's showdown against the Melbourne Storm.
The defending premiers blew South Sydney off the park in the first half of their 26-18 win, and Arthur concedes Thursday night's clash against Craig Bellamy's troops will be a massive test.
"That was talked about straight away; but we can get back and relax, dust ourselves off and get ready to go again," Arthur added.
"We know we're up against a quality opposition, but we need to focus on what sort of team we want to look like and that first half was nowhere near it.
"It's a better result than not getting the job done, but we've still got a lot of work to do and we can't afford to give up that sort of lead in the first half."
Mahoney key to Eels fight back
Hooker Reed Mahoney and bench forward Isaiah Papali'i were instrumental in the Eels comeback.
Mahoney scooted through a slow Brisbane defence for their first try while Papali'i made 27 tackles and earned 180 metres - 77 of those after contact from 19 runs.
"(Reed) was very effective and he waited for the right opportunities ... he's worked hard on himself physically.
"And our bench weren't fantastic last week in our trial but he's been a real find for us, is a great kid, worked hard and I really enjoy coaching him."
The Broncos were left counting the cost of a savage injury toll that saw them play the last 22 minutes with just one healthy man on the bench.
Matt Lodge (hamstring), Xavier Coates (neck, HIA) and John Asiata (shoulder) were all casualties, the latter pair both immediately sent to hospital for scans.
Coates twisted his neck as he flamboyantly dived to score his second try and create the 16-point advantage, with all three first-half tries created in part by an impressive Anthony Milford.
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