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Sheens' F-bomb doesn't miss - but Kearney should

"Kearney said the final effort only served to highlight the lacklustre performance that preceded it."

"Kearney said the final effort only served to highlight the lacklustre performance that preceded it." Photo: Getty Images

The winning coach, Tim Sheens, started his post-match press conference with an audible obscenity. The losing coach, Stephen Kearney, was relaxed enough to light-heartedly wonder whether Fuifui Moimoi - who had more chance of hiding his backside in a tutu than concealing his blatant double-movement - actually knew the rule.

Losing Parramatta fans stood and cheered their team from the field. Winning Wests Tigers fans shuffled to the exits as the players began a searching post-mortem on the field.

The postscript to yesterday's western derby was almost as bizarre as the game itself. Or, at least, the final 21 minutes during which Parramatta scored five tries to slash a 31-point deficit to the single, unexpectedly precious field goal Benji Marshall kicked for practice just before half-time.

Incidentally, Sheens had called that field goal from the box. Which, given it bolstered his rampaging team's lead to 19-0 against an opposition side that did not look likely to score another five tries this millennium, seemed a bit like taking out extra home insurance in case of falling space junk.

However, as redeeming as those finals moments might have seemed for Parramatta, you left wondering if they had done anything more than raise the spirits of those supporters who did not leave early to beat the traffic. Whether the Eels, with their futile flurry, had merely produced a more impressive form of camouflage than Manly's Sea Beagles outfit, or Canberra's more traditional combat jersey.

As you would expect, Kearney said the final effort only served to highlight the lacklustre performance that preceded it. Yet, as the pressure builds, he could not help be slightly relieved the late avalanche had taken the sting out of an abject performance. The type upon which harsh judgments can be made in grandstands and in boardrooms.

Indeed, when Ben Murdoch-Masila plunged over to complete a rapid-fire double after 62 minutes, and give Wests Tigers a 31-0 buffer, it seemed Kearney's Eels had also crossed a line. One that, after a season plus eight games of aching disappointment, separates mere under-achievement from outright crisis.

That seemed achingly apparent in the almost morose way in which the Eels had gone about their business. Wests Tigers, with troubles of their own, looked like a team desperate to make something happen. The Eels looked like a team vaguely hoping something would happen - but not too fussed if it didn't.

On a weekend when $550,000-per-season half Chris Sandow played for Wentworthville, it was the performance of five-eighth Ben Roberts that was symbolic of the Eels' lacklustre first 60 minutes. Once, having cut through the Tigers' defence, Roberts decided to kick the ball and let it hit the ground when he did. Later, he threw one pass so far forward he might well be nominated in the next NFL draft.

Before the match, two state government ministers had promoted a mental health initiative for the western suburbs. Without being flippant about their cause, errors like these were sure to do any Eels' fans head in. Of course, Roberts's blunders could at least be justified on the basis he was at least in the position to make them. Jarryd Hayne, the square peg in the round Origin hole, seemed on the comatose side of laconic. The honourable Nathan Hindmarsh was spared humiliation by long stints on the bench. And Moimoi, the irresistible force of the Parramatta grand final team of - can you believe it - just 2½ years ago, had assumed curious cult-figure status, drawing loud cheers for ineffectual runs at the Wests Tigers defence.

The result was that Wests Tigers had a virtual nets session, with Marshall and Robbie Farah wandering unmolested across the ruck, their forwards hammering holes in a balsa wood defence and Lote Tuqiri prowling threateningly on the wing. Just the type of confidence booster the dethroned premiership favourites needed. Even the last 22 minutes, which they spent mentally back in the sheds, might prove useful, providing ammunition for the clearly displeased Sheens.

The Eels? The most optimistic assessment was that final flurry had instilled missing confidence. That, sooner or later, Sandow would return to a team with its attacking instincts sharpened and things would gradually change.

The more realistic judgment? That if there is not drastic improvement, when the club's absent recruit Will Hopoate arrives he will find it easier to convince non-believers Jesus was more than just a great guy with some awesome party tricks, than he will to lift the Eels off the floor.

rhinds@smh.com.au

Twitter -@rdhinds

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PAR 42vs MAN 12 Report Report Stats
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NEW 24vs NZW 14 Report Stats
GCT 18vs WST 19 Report Stats
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Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
PEN 24vs CBY 18 Report Stats
CRO 20vs CBR 24 Report Stats
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STG 4vs MEL 12 Report Stats
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Round 2
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
CBY 32vs PAR 12 Report Stats
CRO 2vs BRI 10 Report Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
PEN 40vs GCT 0 Report Stats
MAN 24vs MEL 22 Stats
NQL 14vs NEW 16 Report Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
SOU 34vs SYD 26 Stats
CBR 6vs NZW 18 Report Stats
Mon, 16 MarTimes shown AEDT
WST 22vs STG 4 Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
MAN 12vs CBY 16 Report Stats
BRI 44vs NQL 22 Report Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
NZW 29vs PAR 16 Report Stats
CBR 20vs STG 22 Report Stats
MEL 36vs CRO 18 Report Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
SOU 20vs WST 6 Report Stats
GCT 18vs NEW 20 Report Stats
Mon, 23 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD 20vs PEN 12 Report Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
PAR 29vs SOU 16 Report Stats
WST 24vs CBY 25 Report Stats
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
NEW 26vs PEN 14 Report Stats
CRO 22vs GCT 24 Report Stats
STG 12vs MAN 4 Report Stats
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
NZW 16vs BRI 24 Report Stats
SYD 34vs CBR 6 Report Stats
Mon, 30 MarTimes shown AEDT
NQL 18vs MEL 17 Stats
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Round 5
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
CBY 17vs SOU 18 Report Stats
GCT 16vs BRI 26 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MAN 16vs CBR 29 Report Stats
NEW 0vs STG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD 12vs CRO 20 Report Stats
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
PAR 6vs WST 22 Report Stats
MEL 30vs NZW 14 Report Stats
PEN 10vs NQL 30 Report Stats
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Round 6
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 22vs SYD 18 Report Stats
CRO 22vs NEW 6 Report Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
PAR 16vs GCT 38 Report Stats
NZW 32vs WST 22 Report Stats
PEN 22vs MAN 12 Report Stats
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CBR 10vs MEL 14 Report Stats
STG 31vs CBY 6 Report Stats
Mon, 13 AprTimes shown AEST
SOU 12vs NQL 30 Report Stats
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Round 7
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CBY 28vs MAN 16 Report Stats
STG 12vs BRI 10 Report Stats
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GCT 32vs PEN 6 Report Stats
NQL 28vs NZW 24 Report Stats
MEL 17vs SYD 16 Report Stats
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WST 22vs CBR 30 Report Stats
NEW 22vs PAR 28 Report Stats
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CRO 18vs SOU 10 Stats
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Round 8
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CBY 14vs WST 38 Stats
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NZW 28vs GCT 32 Report Stats
NEW 24vs NQL 26 Report Stats
SYD 12vs STG 14 Report Stats
MEL 10vs MAN 12 Stats
BRI 28vs PAR 16 Stats
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PEN 26vs CRO 18 Stats
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Round 9
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI 8vs PEN 5 Report Stats
SYD 36vs WST 4 Stats
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CBR 56vs GCT 16 Stats
CRO 16vs NZW 20 Stats
NQL 23vs CBY 16 Stats
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MAN 30vs NEW 10 Stats
PAR 10vs MEL 28 Stats
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Round 10
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
CBY 10vs SYD 24 Stats
NQL 31vs BRI 20 Stats
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PAR 13vs NZW 17 Report Stats
GCT 22vs CRO 23 Report Stats
MEL 16vs SOU 12 Stats
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STG 32vs CBR 18 Report Stats
NEW 22vs WST 12 Stats
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MAN 10vs PEN 11 Stats
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Round 11
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
SOU 14vs PAR 12 Report Stats
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Round 12
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GCT 16vs SOU 22 Report Stats
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SOU 36vs NZW 4 Stats
PEN 0vs MEL 20 Report Stats
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Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
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GCT 28vs CBY 14 Stats
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MEL 22vs PAR 26 Report Stats
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Round 15
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
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GCT 14vs NZW 36 Report Stats
CBY 24vs PEN 12 Report Stats
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NEW 28vs CRO 30 Report Stats
MEL 12vs BRI 14 Report Stats
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Round 16
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI 44vs NEW 22 Stats
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NQL 18vs CRO 24 Report Stats
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Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN 20vs SOU 6 Report Stats
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WST 16vs PAR 28 Stats
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Round 18
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
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Round 20
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CBY 16vs CRO 18 Report Stats
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Round 21
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
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NQL 32vs CBR 24 Stats
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SOU 20vs PEN 16 Report Stats
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GCT 24vs PAR 14 Stats
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Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
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MAN 28vs SOU 8 Stats
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CRO 30vs NQL 18 Stats
PAR 10vs PEN 4 Stats
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NEW 22vs SYD 38 Report Stats
Mon, 10 AugTimes shown AEST
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Thu, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
NQL 18vs SOU 31 Stats
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WST 18vs NEW 24 Stats
PEN 24vs NZW 10 Stats
SYD 28vs PAR 18 Stats
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CBR 24vs MAN 26 Stats
CBY 36vs GCT 14 Report Stats
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CRO 2vs MEL 30 Stats
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Round 24
Thu, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
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SOU 18vs CBY 32 Report Stats
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CRO 40vs WST 18 Report Stats
NZW 16vs NQL 50 Report Stats
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MAN 16vs PAR 20 Report Stats
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Round 25
Thu, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
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MAN 10vs SYD 46 Report Stats
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