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Parramatta buries hoodoo final with 36-point thrashing of Canberra to secure provisional final spot

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Parramatta buries final hoodoo with 36-point thrashing of Canberra to secure provisional final spot…

  • Parramatta thrash Canberra 40-4 to book provisional final berth
  • Eels will face North Queensland next week as they hunt for the spot in the Grand Final
  • Mitchell Moses was hit on the head again but should be available next week
  • Raiders coach Ricky Stuart admitted his side wasn’t good enough

Parramatta has exorcised their NRL final demons to secure a spot in their first Preliminary Final in 13 years with a 40-4 victory run from Canberra.

Bursting out of the blocks in front of a 29,134 strong crowd at CommBank Stadium, the Eels never looked back after taking a 22-point lead within 25 minutes.

The Eels’ unflattering record under coach Brad Arthur – they had won just two of the nine finals in his tenure for Friday night’s game – had been a big talking point after their week one loss to the Panthers.

Parramatta defeated Canberra 40-4 in the NRL semi-final on Friday night

But they showed no signs of nervousness with their hopes of a premiership at stake, returning to their vigorous and direct running game.

They will now travel to Townsville to take on North Queensland next Friday night in pursuit of their first major final since 2009.

“I’m proud of the boys and happy for our club,” said Arthur.

“But the job isn’t done yet, we’ve got a big week ahead of us and we’re looking forward to it.

The Eels had won just twice in their nine-final appearance under Brad Arthur (above)

The Eels had won just twice in their nine-final appearance under Brad Arthur (above)

Mitchell Moses scored a try and made five of seven conversions for the Eels

Mitchell Moses scored a try and made five of seven conversions for the Eels

The Parramatta star went off in the second half for a head injury assessment but had a chance to return and should be good for the game with the Cowboys

The Parramatta star went off in the second half for a head injury assessment but had a chance to return and should be good for the game with the Cowboys

“Tonight we went out, we retired and went after it.

“Against Penrith we were a bit hesitant and didn’t play to our strengths, but tonight we were a team that went after the game.”

The only minor concern for the Eels is a headbutt to Mitchell Moses, who was ruled out with a concussion during last week’s loss to Penrith.

Moses went away in the second half for a head injury assessment, but had a chance to return and should be good for the game with the Cowboys.

Parramatta is one win away from a first Grand Final appearance since 2009

Parramatta is one win away from a first Grand Final appearance since 2009

Marata Niukore scored a double when the Eels ran to one in seven tries against Canberra

Marata Niukore scored a double when the Eels ran to one in seven tries against Canberra

‘There was a lot of talk about him’ [Moses] unable to handle the pressure, but I think he showed tonight that he can handle the pressure,” Arthur said.

The Eels hit Canberra through the middle and unloaded at will – they had 20 offloads to the Raiders’ 10 – before picking holes in their opponents’ leaky rim defenses.

Aside from the loss of rear rower Corey Harawira-Naera to an early concussion, the Raiders were architects of their own demise.

Mistakes by early Raiders led to early attempts by Parramatta’s Will Penisini and Tom Opacic and Canberra lost the battle for territory and possession.

Junior Paulo (right) scored Parramatta's fourth try of a dominant first half

Junior Paulo (right) scored Parramatta’s fourth try of a dominant first half

Moses, who kicked five from seven conversions and added a late penalty, soon sent a spiral-cut pass for Waqa Blake to waltz in untouched on the right with 20 minutes to go.

Prop Junior Paulo was next to pass for the Eels and Canberra was lucky that Parramatta duo Clint Gutherson and Maika Sivo had rejected the attempts.

Only an escape attempt for Xavier Savage prevented the Raiders from being held to nil as they trailed 22-4 at halftime.

“We weren’t good enough,” said Canberra coach Ricky Stuart.

“They were far superior and they were up tonight.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart admitted on Friday his team just wasn't 'good enough'

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart admitted on Friday his team just wasn’t ‘good enough’

“They got us early and when you have 30 to 40 percent of the football” [it’s hard] play against such a team.’

Canberra should have been the first to score after the break, but when Paulo shot at Moses to race home five minutes after the break, the curtain fell on Stuart’s side.

With Moses clear for a head injury assessment, the Eels lost their way with the ball in hand, but were still able to hold back anything Canberra threw at them.

Marata Niukore, who came in in the middle after Opacic suffered a hamstring injury, scored a late double to seal the loss.

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