Two weeks ago he was booed by Parramatta fans but Jakob Arthur can keep his head up after setting up try of the year to keep Parramatta’s top four hopes alive.
Parramatta halfback Jakob Arthur had the last laugh at 4 Pines Park on Friday night. The only boos came from disaffected Manly fans, mostly directed at their own side after a bland second-half performance that effectively ended the Sea Eagles’ season.
The Eels fans – and we use that term loosely – who targeted Arthur two weeks ago were forced to eat humble pie as the No 7 followed in Mitchell Moses’ footsteps and helped spark a rebound in of the second half that may have saved Parramatta’s season.
Arthur, the son of Eels manager Brad Arthur, had a quiet first half but came alive in the second as he made his first appearance since being taunted when Parramatta was beaten at Brisbane’s Commbank Stadium two weeks ago.
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That night he was mocked when his name appeared on the scoreboard before the game. He was taunted again as he ran onto the field. He was targeted by part of the crowd, who should have bowed their heads in embarrassment.
It was pathetic of some of the Parramatta believers. Remarkably, Arthur got a better reception at 4 Pines Park on Friday night as he helped fill the creative void created by Moses’ absence.
Moses was heavily involved in the pre-game warm-up. He then took a seat on the sidelines as Arthur was the last Eels player to jog onto the field. As he made his way into a packed 4 Pines Park, the booing began to die down.
Early on, it looked like Moses wouldn’t be missed. The Eels took an early lead as captain Clint Gutherson caught up from behind in his absence.
Arthur had little to do in the first 40 minutes, but he came to life in the second half with a harbor bridge pass that sparked one of the tries of the season – and may have saved the year of the Eels in the process.
The Eels were six points behind when Waqa grabbed Blake Arthur’s pass with his fingertips and somehow managed to put his whole body over the sideline and into the corner. Borrowing a line from Ray Warren wasn’t an attempt, it was a miracle.
Arthur wasn’t done yet. Gutherson scored an attempt of his own to put the Eels ahead, but Arthur helped end the game with 11 minutes left when he executed a well-weighted kick for center Will Penisini that gave the Eels a 14-point lead.
Parramatta players were celebrating and Arthur was in the thick of it. The 19-year-old has taken a hit this season, if not from his own fans then on social media. He was beaten from pillar to pillar.
On Friday night he showed the rugby league world – and the so-called Parramatta fans who took delight in making his life a misery – that he deserved his place in first class.
When asked about the pressure he was under, Arthur said: “All the boys have been really good to me. I haven’t worried about it or heard about it.”
WATCH: TRY OF THE YEAR RECRUITER END MANLY’S FINALS DREAM
All eyes were on the returning boycotters, but in the end it was a couple of former Sea Eagles who returned to their old haunt to sink the boot as Manly’s top-eight hopes went up in smoke to end a turbulent fortnight at the to crown northern beaches.
The Sea Eagles are now four points behind the top 8 after taking a 36-20 second-half lead in front of a sold-out crowd at 4 Pines Park and hoping for a rebound after seven of their best players were eliminated the week before.
Three members of the boycott brigade, who skipped last week’s costly loss to the Roosters, scored a goal, with Jason Saab breaking the line four times in his best game in a Manly shirt, but it wasn’t enough when the hosts late slacked off to hold their fans to the dreaded “mathematical chance” of reaching the finals.
“I thought we started pretty well at half-time,” said coach Des Hasler.
“There were some tackles that we had to do there, but we just couldn’t make them.
“We have to win the next four out of four. Realistically, it gives us a chance. Less will not work.
“I think we have the players for it. We just have to find a way.”
To make matters worse, veteran five-eighter Kieran Foran finished the game with ice on his hamstring and is doubtful for next week’s trip to the Gold Coast to face his future teammates.
“He will doubt. He has a mild Hammy strain,” Hasler said.
KING LIVES LIFE IN THE FAST LANE
There were no boos from the Brookvale faithful, but there weren’t many cheers after halftime when a local junior returned to ignite the team that gave him his NRL debut.
Clint Gutherson has long been Parramatta’s spiritual guide and, in Mitch Moses’ absence, held a master class to keep Parramatta in touch with the Top 4.
The Cromer Kingfishers junior was fantastic on Friday night, setting up two maika sivo attempts with 10 minutes left of the opener before picking up a bold offload from former Sea Eagle Shaun Lane to set up Tom Opacic to tie things before the break .
Lane was equally destructive on the left edge and it was fitting that he played another perfect pass to Gutherson, who ruled Reuben Garrick dead for a three-try blitz in 10 minutes to sink the Sea Eagles.
Gutherson finished the game with 174 yards, three try assists, two line breaks and a try on a night when his team needed him most.
END OF THE YEAR
Someone is calling the Birmingham gymnastics judges because Waqa Blake hit a perfect 10 on Friday night to score one of the tries of the season in his 150th NRL appearance.
The Eels winger made his best Inspector Gadget impression to somehow place the ball despite his whole body being well off the field.
What made the moment even more special was that it was young Jake Arthur who threw a spectacular Harbor Bridge-style pass to set up his winger just two weeks after he was booed by sections of the CommBank Stadium crowd .
Graham Annesley will have another joke on Monday trying to explain why the Sea Eagles were not awarded a penalty try in the second half.
The full house at 4 Pines Park howled as it looked like Morgan Harper was being held back by Will Penisini as he blasted through a rolling ball near the try line, but the bunker showed them no love and decided that the center of the Eels just tried to get around Harper to the loose ball.
It was a bizarre sequence as Harper had every opportunity to pick up the steeden and to make matters worse he was then pinged for a shot as he tried to ground the ball.
Originally released as NRL 2022: Waqa Blake scores try of the year as the Parramatta Eels win 36-20 over Manly Sea Eagles
https://www.codesports.com.au/sport/nrl-2022-waqa-blake-scores-try-of-the-year-contender-as-parramattas-eels-win-3620-over-manly-sea-eagles/news-story/4207da34b6d64388b52764b6782fe94f?nk=39af04ce61e47537c4b4d965aa7ab162-1659711613 NRL 2022: Waqa Blake scores try of the year as the Parramatta Eels win 36-20 over Manly Sea Eagles