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Eels take another NRL hit in the halves

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/04/2017 Scott Bailey

Denied Mitchell Moses for the rest of the NRL season, Parramatta's halves crisis took another hit in Saturday's 18-12 win over Penrith.

But you wouldn't know it watching them play.

After already having to shift regular five-eighth Clinton Gutherson to fullback to cover for the injured Bevan French, makeshift No.6 Brad Takairangi was taken from the field just before halftime with a knee injury.

There were initial concerns it was a posterior cruciate ligament problem - enough to rule him out for up to a month, if confirmed.

But on the field, the Eels' halves were dominant again.

Spearheaded by Corey Norman, they controlled territory early in the match and virtually had Penrith beaten by the 44th minute when the No.7 scored.

"The boys challenged themselves today to really aim up and get back to the way we played a lot last year," coach Brad Arthur said.

"We probably haven't been like that this year."

Norman was in everything on Saturday, as Penrith sank to their fourth-straight loss.

He scored twice, and provided a pinpoint-perfect kick for winger Semi Radradra on the brink of halftime to take control of the match.

Who they use next to fill the No.6 jersey alongside him is anyone's guess.

Gutherson will likely return there if French comes back next week from a knee injury, while back-rower Kenny Edwards filled in there in the second half.

The conjecture surrounding Moses' arrival from the Wests Tigers has done little to disturb Gutherson's form.

He set up the second-half try for Norman with an on-the-run kick, busted three tackles and ran 142 metres at the back.

He was also one of Parramatta's best last week against the Tigers, setting up two tries in the win.

"It doesn't bother me at all," Gutherson said of Moses' arrival.

"I've known him pretty much all my life. I've known him for ages, been in rep teams with him, so I'm just looking forward to him coming over and playing."

Gutherson played fullback while coming through the junior ranks at Manly, before slotting into five-eighth in reserve grade at the Sea Eagles.

He also played at wing and centre last year for the Eels, which could prove pivotal come next year.

"I just like playing footy anywhere on the field. If I'm at the back, in the centres, it doesn't bother me."

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