NRL 9 months ago

Eels halves insist best is yet to come

  • Eels halves insist best is yet to come

    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 17: Corey Norman of the Eels runs the ball during the round 15 NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium on June 17, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

They had the ball on a string on Sunday, but Parramatta halves pairing Clint Gutherson and Corey Norman insist they can only get better.

Gutherson and Norman controlled the Eels' opening-round win against Manly perfectly at Lottoland, each scoring a try in the 20-12 victory.

The match was the first the pair have been partnered together, and while Norman at times had the Manly defensive line fooled, he later told coach Brad Arthur he was unhappy with his performance.

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"I was a bit tired and a few of my plays weren't good enough - and a few of my kicks too," Norman said.

Perhaps he will be happier when he revisits the tape this week.

He collected his own grubber to score the Eels' first try, kicked a 40-20 to put them in the position for their second and then threw the last pass to Gutherson for the visitors' third.

The pair also kept Manly pinned deep in their own half and limited the Sea Eagles to just 38 per cent of possession.

Parramatta forced the hosts to drop the ball out seven times after they were caught in their own in-goals, as Norman and Gutherson asserted their authority as the Eels barely gave the Sea Eagles a sniff.

Norman reverted to the No.7 jersey following Kieran Foran's departure from the club last year, while Gutherson only shifted to the halves by Arthur when his new playmaking partner was suspended for the last eight matches of the season.

They first trained as pairing until Christmas, but barely had a week together in the New Year before Norman strained his hamstring at the Auckland Nines and sat at all of the Eels' trial fixtures.

"We clicked there but we're still a bit rusty," Norman said.

"It was very good but in saying that we've got a lot to improve on."

Meanwhile Gutherson said he was starting to settle into the No.6 jersey.

"I'm still learning the position," he said.

"I've still got a bit of work to do with Norms. That will come in the next few rounds."

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