Brown powers Eels to vital win as NRL finals loom

The previous Nathan Brown to play at Kogarah was a blond-haired hooker who is now coaching Newcastle.

Another Nathan Brown was playing on Jubilee Oval yesterday, this version a lock for Parramatta who played a pivotal role in the Eels' vital 12-4 win.

Brown ran for 105 metres from 12 runs and completed 36 tackles. He is tough yet clever - two ingredients few carry in rugby league.

"Browny probably leads our pack. He brings energy and plenty of intent," Parramatta coach Brad Arthur said.

"He gives you a bit of flexibility too because he can play good minutes if you need him to. He gets off the line hard in defence and he can play with the football a bit."

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Maika Sivo and the Eels celebrate during the win over the Dragons. Picture: AAP
Maika Sivo and the Eels celebrate during the win over the Dragons. Picture: AAP

 

Brown was busy and effective despite rolling an ankle three minutes from full-time.

"But I don't think it's too serious," Arthur said.

While Brown was strong, Parramatta props Junior Paulo and Kane Evans were outstanding early. They went after St George Illawarra's big-name pack with pride and vigour.

It wasn't a pretty win but it was certainly important. Parramatta scored just two points in the second half but toughed out their 11th victory of the season.

"It was ugly and we gave them a lot of cheap ball," Eels skipper Clint Gutherson said.

The Eels have now won five of their past six games and have gathered some handy momentum with the finals looming.

Few think they can win the premiership but Parramatta might just give some cheek if they qualify for the finals.

 

Junior Paulo was strong for the Eels against the Dragons. Picture: Brett Costello
Junior Paulo was strong for the Eels against the Dragons. Picture: Brett Costello

 

It was Parramatta's first win at Kogarah since then Eels superstar Jarryd Hayne exploded in a memorable individual performance in 2009, the year his side reached the grand final.

However, Parramatta do have a few issues.

Eels forward Manu Ma'u was placed on report for a high tackle, while Evans was sinbinned late for a high tackle on Dragons forward Blake Lawrie.

Parramatta couldn't move from sixth place yesterday, win or lose. St George Illawarra couldn't make the finals yesterday, win or lose. It prompted a match without urgency.

"We're learning to win in different ways and at any cost," ­Arthur said. "We have had our struggles winning away from home.

"Our big boys were good through the middle early. But we still have plenty to work on. Our response was great when we put ourselves under pressure. We had to dig in and we did."

 

Corey Norman and the Dragons fell to another defeat. Picture: AAP
Corey Norman and the Dragons fell to another defeat. Picture: AAP

 

SOUR SAINTS

St George Illawarra tried. They had a good old-­fashioned dig but just weren't good enough. It's that simple.

They have now lost 11 of their past 13 games.

The fans were largely quiet but you could feel their increasing frustration as the match went on. Before a modest Jubilee Oval crowd of 9645, the Dragons didn't offer up a whole lot.

This has been their season from hell. And the end cannot come quickly enough.

"It's tough, mate," Dragons coach Paul McGregor said. "When you're not winning games, everyone wants to know why and the reasons behind it.

"Everyone wants to come at you and attack you. As a coach, you just have to make sure you're comfortable being ­uncomfortable.

"You try and stay composed and still give the boys confidence. I'm as competitive as ever."

 

Maika Sivo scores a try for the Eels. Picture: Getty Images
Maika Sivo scores a try for the Eels. Picture: Getty Images

 

CRUSHING DECISIONS

Not one, not two but three crusher tackles marred yesterday's game.

Dragons centre Euan Aitken was placed on report for an alleged crusher tackle on Parramatta winger Maika Sivo in the first half.

Seconds later, St George Illawarra prop Paul Vaughan was penalised for another possible crusher tackle on Parramatta front-rower Evans.

And then Paul Vaughan was placed on report for a 58th-minute crusher tackle on Brown.

"Sometimes you can't avoid those tackles," McGregor said.

PARRAMATTA 12 (D Brown M Sivo tries M Moses 2 goals) bt ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 4 (M Ravalawa try) at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium. Referee: Ashley Klein, Todd Smith. Crowd: 9,645