NRL 2021: Relieved Brad Arthur hits out at Parramatta Eels' lack of respect in season-opener against Brisbane Broncos

A relieved Brad Arthur is lamenting his side's lack of respect for the opposition after a diabolical first half display almost cost Parramatta Eels an opening round NRL win.

Winless in 11 matches, the Brisbane Broncos came out firing, scoring 16 unanswered first-half points, although they were helped by nine handling errors from the bumbling Eels.

A half-time spray from their frustrated coach was enough to get one of the competition favourites going and they peeled off four second-half tries to run out 24-16 winners.

"I'm a little bit annoyed we didn't show them enough respect early in the first half. I don't want us to be a team like that," Arthur said.

"Maybe in the last couple of years we couldn't have fought back.

"[The first half] was just a reflection of probably not respecting the opposition or ourselves. We thought we could pass our way to it instead of working hard.

"I saw how calm they were in the sheds at half-time, I spoke to our assistant coach [Steve Murphy] who said they were really calm on the field too so that was a good indication for me. I know how desperate they are to make sure we play well.

"We had to show a bit of character once we got in front to fight and hang on so I was pretty pleased with that. I thought physically we finished the game pretty good."

NRL 2021: Relieved Brad Arthur hits out at Parramatta Eels' lack of respect in season-opener against Brisbane Broncos
Brad Arthur
Brad Arthur Photo credit: Getty

Under new coach Kevin Walters, the Broncos looked a better side than the bottom-placed ramble of 2020, but they now face an early-season injury crisis with double try-scorer Xavier Coates, prop Matt Lodge and forward John Asiata all assisted off the field.

Knights top Bulldogs

Meanwhile, Newcastle Knights opened their season with a 32-16 win over the Canterbury Bulldogs at McDonald Jones Stadium.

The Knights trailed twice in the first half, but dominated the second, running in three tries to one.

Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett cast a frustrated figure post-match, questioning a lopsided penalty count in favour of the hosts.

"I need to get a little bit of clarity on the 'six-to-gos' because we got pumped - so I'll find out about that, and the penalties. I've got to be careful there, but I've got to ask the question because it put us under enormous pressure," he said.

"But that's certainly no excuse for the poor yardage errors we made, and they weren't forced errors either. They were ours, and we've got to own that."

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 12: Tyson Frizell of the Knights celebrates the win with team mates during the round one NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the Canterbury Bulldogs at McDonald Jones Stadium, on March 12, 2021, in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty

The former Manly Sea Eagles boss says his team will be better prepared when they take on the Penrith Panthers next week.

"Combinations are going to get better the more they play together, and there were a few blokes there probably a bit underdone, but they'll be better for it next week, and we're going to have to be [against Penrith]," Barrett said.

"They [Penrith] are a good side but it doesn't matter who we play, you can't do what we did tonight. It might sound really simple but it is - you can't turn the ball over in yardage.

"Our defence will improve, and our energy levels will be better when you get 50-50 of the ball and hang on to it. It's an easy fix but we've got to correct it pretty quickly."

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