A candid Brad Arthur says his side played dumb rugby league against the Roosters on Thursday night to put a huge dent in their top four chances.
The Eels were humiliated 28-0 in Mackay by a team missing a large chunk of their salary cap, and it leaves Parramatta level on points with the Roosters with five rounds remaining.
To make matters worse, the Eels have the toughest draw with games against the Rabbitohs, Sea Eagles, Storm and Panthers still to come.
They still control their destiny, but the Eels have looked rudderless without halfback Mitchell Moses and have shown in the past they have a tendency to implode at the back-end of seasons.
The Eels were encouraged by club great Peter Sterling to move the ball around in their own half, but the tactic backfired in greasy conditions up north, with Parramatta making a stack of errors in the first half.
Things didn’t get any better in the second half as their attack failed to fire, prompting skipper Clint Gutherson to lose his cool with an expletive-laden tirade at teammate Tom Opacic.
“We played pretty dumb at times and we did some silly things on the field,” Arthur said.
“I thought the effort was there. I know the scoreline doesn’t reflect it, but when you put yourself under that much pressure with some dumb things that we did … we didn’t play as a team.”
The Eels must now regroup for next Friday’s game against South Sydney on the Gold Coast, where Moses is expected to return from a back injury.
Another loss could drop Parramatta out of the all-important top four, and they’ll have to do it without prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard, who suffered a groin strain in the opening minutes.
“There’s nothing we can do about it right now,” Arthur said.
“We just need to go back, recover and then have a look at some video, and then we need to move onto our next opposition, Souths, who are a tough opposition. When we play as a team, the majority of the time we can win those games.
“I just thought we played as individuals tonight and did some dumb things.”