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Parra flatter: Eels' limp effort has Hindmarsh guessing again


Michael Chammas

Flying Eagle ... Manly's Daly Cherry-Evans makes a break against Parramatta.

Flying Eagle ... Manly's Daly Cherry-Evans makes a break against Parramatta. Photo: Cameron Spencer

Sea Eagles 40 Eels 24


THE worst part of the rabble that is Parramatta is the fact that captain Nathan Hindmarsh has to go down with the sinking ship.

Nathan Hindmarsh of the Eels is tackled.

Nathan Hindmarsh of the Eels is tackled. Photo: Getty Images

If it wasn't bad enough his farewell season will likely be remembered as Parramatta's worst in 65 years, he now has one of the club's most humiliating halves of football etched into his memory.

The Eels did the opposite of everything coach Stephen Kearney would have drilled into them at training this week, dishing out 40 minutes of football that would have left a NSW Cup coach scratching his head for answers. Manly ran in 34 unanswered points in a sorry first half for the Eels.

In the lead-up to yesterday's game at Brookvale Oval, Hindmarsh admitted he had been second-guessing his decision to retire at the end of this season.

Steve Matai of the Sea Eagles is tackled.

Steve Matai of the Sea Eagles is tackled. Photo: Getty Images

Now the veteran back-rower would be wishing to fast-forward the next eight weeks so he can finally put his feet up and forget the trainwreck this season has become.

Spare a thought for Parramatta-bound Sea Eagles Darcy Lussick and Daniel Harrison, who are leaving the premiers for the likely wooden spooners at the end of the year.

But it was Eels discard David Williams, who played all of his junior football at Parramatta, who came back to haunt his former club, scoring four tries in an incredible first half for the home side.

Tony Williams of the Sea Eagles makes a break.

Tony Williams of the Sea Eagles makes a break. Photo: Getty Images

It was an ordinary start from the Eels, twice handing over possession with simple mistakes at the play-the-ball in their first three sets, before Willie Tonga fumbled in their first attacking opportunity of the game.

It wasn't as though Manly jumped out of the blocks, but they made the most of their rare opportunities to race out to a 10-0 lead.

With the Eels missing Jarryd Hayne and losing hooker Matt Keating in the warm-up, things went from bad to worse as the Sea Eagles took full advantage of a team playing with no passion or desire.

The Eels restored some pride in the second half, winning that minor battle 24-6, albeit against a Manly team already thinking about next Saturday's game against Newcastle.

While he was delighted with the first half, Manly coach Geoff Toovey was far from pleased with the way his troops shut up shop at the end of the game.

''I'm a bit disappointed for the fans,'' Toovey said. ''Rightly or wrongly, our players individually made some poor decisions and made the wrong option. But I thought for periods of the game we were outstanding, particularly in the first half. We just went to sleep in the second half.''

Manly haven't been at full strength since their opening round fixture against the Warriors, unable to maintain some continuity in their team because of injury, suspension and representative duties.

The Sea Eagles are now in the top four - at least until tonight's match between Cronulla and the Sydney Roosters - and even though they have played understrength all year, Toovey admitted he expected his team to be well positioned coming into the home stretch towards the finals.

''I think, as I said at the beginning of the year, we'll give the competition a real shake,'' Toovey said.

On a sour note for Manly, Brett Stewart left the field early in the second half with a hamstring injury, while Jorge Taufua has a quad strain. The pair will be assessed today but there is no indication of major damage to either player.

MANLY 40 (D Williams 4 B Stewart 2 D Cherry-Evans tries J Lyon 6 goals) bt PARRAMATTA 24 (K Sio 2 L Burt J Mullaney tries L Burt 4 goals) at Brookvale Oval. Referee: Shayne Hayne, Alan Shortall. Crowd: 16,065.

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