Eels feel NRL ghosts of troubled pasts

Sep 16, 2017 - 11:56 AM The ghosts of Parramatta's past came back to haunt the Eels on Saturday night as they capitulated in search of a drought-breaking title.

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur insisted before Saturday night's semi-final with North Queensland that three decades of anticipation wouldn't weigh down on the Eels.

But it appeared someone forgot to tell his players that ahead of the 24-16 loss at ANZ Stadium.

The Eels looked every bit the team that played with disappointment on their minds as they went in search of their first title since 1986.

In their first home final in eight years, they completed at just 66 per cent - their third lowest rate of the year.

Time and time again they gave up opportunities to build pressure on the Cowboys' line.

And the Eels almost gave away an eight-point try when Cameron King collected Coen Hess high.

Manu Ma'u was then lucky not to be sin-binned for an open-handed strike on Ben Hampton, which was eventually cleared by the bunker on review.

Their 2017 loss won't hurt as much as those in 2001 and 2005, where they couldn't convert the minor premiership into a title.

But it will still sting considering they reached the top four for the first time in 12 years, only to go out in straight sets.

Two of Parramatta's tries came from length-of-the-field kick returns.

Semi Radradra opened the scoring in front of the crowd of 42,187 in the seventh minute when he leapt to take a Te Maire Martin kick and run 100 metres to score.

They took a 10-6 half-time lead when fullback Will Smith collected a Michael Morgan grubber to go 80 metres and put the Eels within touching distance of a preliminary final.

But continued errors on errors meant they couldn't build any pressure in attack, until Michael Jennings crossed on the buzzer.

Source: AAP

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