Jimmy the Jet grounded as Eels’ season ends
JIMMY the Jet has been grounded.
NSW aspirant and Brisbane centre James Roberts is likely to be ruled out of contention for the Origin opener after sustaining an achilles injury in Thursday night's win over Parramatta.
If Roberts was unavailable, the Sydney Roosters' Latrell Mitchell and St George Illawarra's Euan Aitken would be near certainties to be named as NSW's new centre pairing.
Roberts - who has been in stellar form this season - hobbled off Suncorp Stadium in the 60th minute and was immediately assessed as having sustained a left achilles injury.
NSW coach Brad Fittler had narrowed down his centre options to three players - Roberts, Mitchell and Aitken. Three is now ready to become just two.
The NSW will be announced at The Star on Monday.
Roberts was instantly iced by Brisbane medical staff on the sideline. He was expected to have scans today to determine the extent of his injury.
Mitchell's Roosters play Gold Coast on Saturday afternoon while Aitken's Dragons confront Penrith on Saturday evening.
Any injury to Mitchell and Aitken could see Manly's Tom Trbojevic considered for a centre position.
Roberts had scored a try in his side's hard-fought victory on Thursday night.
It has been 31 agonising seasons since Parramatta last won a premiership. You can now make that 32.
The Eels season of hope officially and painfully ended on Thursday night through an 18-10 loss to Brisbane.
Parramatta cannot make the finals even if they string together a series of wins. It's over for 2018 - it never actually began.
The Eels had a real crack on Thursday night - but since when have Parramatta fans been satisfied with their team simply having a go?
Parramatta will now need to wait until 2019 to try and win a comp. That's a hell of a wait when you think the last team to clinch a title was back in 1986.
The Eels have won just two wins from 12 matches this season. It has been the year from hell.
Parramatta lost their final two matches last season - meaning it's technically two wins from their past 14 games.
Victory pushes Brisbane into the top eight for now on 14 competition points.
Errors and impatience at key moments killed Parramatta once again. They are also a team playing without luck.
The Eels were certainly committed and played with dedication to each other - but something is missing.
Eels coach Brad Arthur must be unhinged.
"Parramatta just couldn't win the yardage battle," said Fox Sports' Matt Johns.
The match was played under a shadow for Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett, who coached his 800th NRL game last year.
Broncos management made the controversial decision to approach Melbourne's Craig Bellamy as a possible replacement for Bennett after next season.
For all his success and longevity, Bennett now faces the embarrassing prospect of being sacked by the club he has guided, nurtured and mentored for 25 years.
Coaching 800 first grade games is an extraordinary achievement that may never be matched again.
"It will be reflection time when I retire and that time hasn't come yet," Bennett said.
The Eels have now lost four successive games.
Arthur pulled a positional surprise on Thursday night by shifting five-eighth Corey Norman back to fullback with Clint Gutherson into the halves.
Norman hadn't played fullback for three years before Thursday night but had plenty of involvement last night.
The positional shifts were designed to allow halfback Mitch Moses to run the team solo.
Did the changes work? The jury is still out.
An intercept try to Eels winger George Jennings gave Parramatta some hope - but it wasn't enough.
And a forward pass late in the game denied Parramatta's Bevan French a try which would have set-up a thrilling finish.
The Broncos scored two unanswered first half tries to lead 12-2 at the break. Brisbane winger Jamayne Isaako scored the opening try - and it was a ripper.
Isaako spectacularly caught a bomb on the full in traffic before running around Norman to score. He then converted to give Brisbane a 6-0 lead. Isaako is some prospect.
It didn't get any better for Parramatta in the 13th minute when elite centre Michael Jennings was sin-binned for a professional foul.
One-man down, Parramatta couldn't hold on. Brisbane winger Corey Oates found Parramatta short out wide - on Jennings' side - to score his team's second try.
It was Oates seventh try in six games against Parramatta. Isaako landed a bomb from the sideline to give Brisbane a 12-0 lead. The Broncos completed their first 11 sets.
Jennings came back and looked set to be a hero when he crossed in the 25th minute but the ball was unintentionally knocked from his grasp over the tryline.
And can you believe Jennings dropped another ball when poised to score in the second half.
Brisbane was awarded the first five penalties, Parramatta winning the next five for a 5-all count at halftime.
Parramatta prop Daniel Alvaro left the field in the first half for an HIA test. He was cleared to play.
BRISBANE 18 (J Isaako C Oates J Roberts tries J Isaako 3 goals) bt PARRAMATTA 10 (G Jennings try M Moses 3 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Ashley Klein, Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski. Crowd: 21,555.