Eels heap more misery on under-fire Potter

It wasn’t pretty but no one of a Parramatta persuasion cared on Friday night as their embattled Eels ended a run of 10 straight losses with a 26-22 win to heap more pressure on Wests Tigers coach Mick Potter.


It may have lacked quality at times, but the NRL’s two bottom sides produced an exciting encounter that was won by the hosts thanks to a try three minutes before fulltime from winger Vai Toutai following some sterling work from Ben Roberts.

The defeat will fuel speculation about Potter’s future and the 49-year-old was on the cusp of a much-needed win when rugby-bound Benji Marshall converted Tim Simona’s 72nd-minute try.

Parramatta welcomed back Jarryd Hayne following a hamstring injury that sidelined him for more than two months.

The NSW star was named at five-eighth by Ricky Stuart and his return certainly galvanised the Eels, who looked far more menacing in attack than in recent weeks in front of a crowd of 12,013.

The Tigers opened the scoring after seven minutes through David Nofoaluma’s eighth try of an excellent debut season.

However, Stuart’s side responded well to that early setback with Ken Sio and the impressive Jake Mullaney crossing in quick succession.

Hayne played a role in both tries and his side should have extended their advantage when Roberts got his hands to Marshall grubber kick and broke free, only to produce an appalling pass to undo all of his good work and cough up the ball.

And just shy of the half-hour mark the Tigers regained the lead through the lightning-fast Marika Koroibete with Marshall adding the extras.

Toutai finished in the left corner after more good work from Hayne just before halftime, but after the break the Tigers came racing out of the blocks but were unable to score following three successive sets on the Eels’ line.

Both sides struggled to keep hold of the ball on occasions, but the Tigers did finally add a third try when Koroibete, who scored four times against Parramatta last year, added his second 12 minutes after the restart.

But the Eels kept pressing and Joseph Paulo showed great strength to touch down just after the hour mark, only for the visitors to hit back through Simona.

A big run from Fuifui Moimoi set up a final push for the home side and Roberts showed brilliant footwork and vision to find Tautau who made no mistake with Paulo kicking the extra two points.

Stuart said he was relieved by the win but admitted his side were desperate to end their wretched run.

“That game was pretty ugly, we didn’t play well, and it sounds funny as we have been getting beat all these weeks,” he said.

“But I felt we have played better in those losses than tonight.

“In saying that, we knew it was going to be a desperate game for both teams, but we had a relaxed build-up and it was about desire tonight.

“We have a lot of spirit in the joint.”

Potter said he expected to still be in his job by next week, but admitted the speculation had been unsettling.

“I wouldn’t say it’s been my easiest week at work,” Potter said.

“I just got on with business as best as I could. You don’t like it, but it comes with the job and you just have to get on with it.”

To compound the Tigers woes, Koroibete sustained a suspected fractured cheekbone.

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