A Dylan Brown masterclass sent Parramatta back into the top four by beating the Bulldogs 42-6 at CommBank Stadium.
In front of a healthy crowd of 26,451, Brown stole the show with two tries and three assists to tear apart Canterbury and bring his side within two points of fourth-placed Melbourne. With a trip to Brisbane and a draw at home to the Storm last weekend, it’s still in their hands.
Even if they don’t make the top four, it’s almost certain that Parramatta will return to CommBank Stadium for a home final. On this form they will be hard to beat – though it bears repeating that Parramatta’s form is up and down like a violinist’s elbow.
“I know what this team can do, and so do the moms and dads of the boys and the fans,” Brad Arthur said.
“What we want to see is what they want – we’re tired of seeing what we can do, we want to see it from them all the time. The need was there today, but we have to back it up next week.
“We can’t be that team anymore. We have to be the team that wants to do it again and again.
Brown had way too much for the Dogs and was ably helped by the return of Mitchell Moses. Playing with the broken finger that had ruled him out of the past two weeks, the half-back was instrumental in starting the Eels attack in the first half and also created three of his own, including two for Brown.
“Dylan was great, but he was built off of our defense,” Arthur said. “Our captain (Clint Gutherson) did a great job of getting our numbers organized and we seemed comfortable with every shift they threw at us.
“They showed they can do it in the big games, but the question is whether we want to do it. We showed in the big games what we are capable of, but finding the urge is what we want. prove.
The Dogs have nothing to play for and are now licking their wounds after a second beating in consecutive weeks. They welcomed Luke Thompson after an extended absence, but his return was a rare highlight of an afternoon when they were definitely outplayed.
“We were excited,” said Mick Potter. “We threw the ball away, we didn’t stifle their last plays and we didn’t create pressure on the other team. That’s what we talked about at halftime and then we did the opposite of what I wanted.
Canterbury took an early lead through a penalty, but once Parra started playing they didn’t let go.
Will Penisini got the first in the right corner – Josh Addo-Carr was nowhere in sight on his edge, with the Eels returning to the same well for the second as a clever play from Moses found Waqa Blake.
They didn’t have everything their way. After an unnecessary forward pass into their own end, Parra offered possession to Canterbury and, from a scrimmage play, they hit Aaron Schoupp.
Brown then made his first major intervention, producing a spectacular pass for Maika Sivo down the left. It could have been more before the break, with Isaiah Papali’i breaking through the middle twice but unable to convert to points.
At the start of the second half, the noose tightened. Brown went for a try for Ryan Matterson on the right, and on the left, Tom Opacic tore the line for another.
Brown then grabbed two of his own in quick succession. Both were on kicks from Mitchell Moses: one requiring the Kiwi half to show silky football skills to dribble around Jave Averillo, the second a simple run between Brown and the Dogs fullback.
The Dogs have not left. Addo-Carr thought he had scored after Brown struggled to kick, and Max King broke late in the middle but couldn’t find Tevita Pangai jnr. Matt Burton made a late break, but the Parramatta defense showed supreme commitment to scrambling and stopping the try.
They were rewarded for their efforts, with Blake getting a last-second score as the Dogs’ tired resolve crumbled.