Parramatta’s premiership hopes are hanging by a thread after Sydney Roosters triumphed 28-0 in Mackay.
- The Roosters scored five tries against the Eels
- Josh Morris, Daniel Tupou, Sitili Tupouniua, Joey Manu and Sam Walker all crossed for tries
- The fourth-placed Eels are only ahead of the Roosters on the ladder because of a superior points difference
The Eels are out of form and could ultimately finish the regular season as low as sixth, having lost two of their past three matches and with a tough run home to the finals.
They play all of the top three sides — South Sydney, Melbourne and Penrith — over the next five weeks as well as Manly, who is also jostling for a top-four finish.
On the other hand, the Roosters revived their premiership hopes with five unanswered tries on Thursday night.
They drew level with the fourth-placed Eels on 28 points but sit back in fifth position because of an inferior points difference.
The Roosters’ victory has set up a massive run into the finals as they face the Panthers next week followed by matches against Brisbane, St George Illawarra, South Sydney and Canberra.
Their tenacity is even more telling given their horrendous injury toll this season, which includes eight players with season-ending injuries, three of whom were forced into retirement.
They added another injury to the list in Mackay with Josh Morris sidelined in the second half with a hamstring injury, which will further deplete their backline stocks.
The 34-year-old is the third backline player to be injured in recent weeks after Joseph Suaalii (foot) and Matt Ikuvalu (ankle) both went for surgery this week.
It leaves the Roosters with just one player in their Queensland bubble able to slot into the backline, Moala Graham-Taufa, a rookie who has played just a handful of reserve grade matches.
But for the fourth week in a row they battled through adversity to get a convincing victory with Morris, Daniel Tupou, Sitili Tupouniua, Joey Manu and Sam Walker all scoring tries.
The Roosters had a horror opening 15 minutes after turning the ball over 10 metres from their line four times, but still managed to hold out the Eels to lead 12-0 at half-time.
James Tedesco had an unusually tough time under the high ball and knocked on two bombs, while Morris and Tupou also coughed up cheap possession for a woeful 27 per cent completion rate early.
But as bad as their handling was, the Eels’ attack was worse.
Without Mitch Moses steering the ship, the Eels’ attack fell short and despite being gifted 17 tackles in the Roosters’ 20-metre zone they squandered every scoring chance.
Moses is firming for a return from a back injury to face the Rabbitohs next week, but the Eels will be sweating on Reagan Campbell Gillard (hamstring) and Waqa Blake (concussion) coming back.
Both were taken from the field in the first half against the Roosters and did not return.