Five Key Points: Raiders v Eels
Canberra's perfect pair something to savour, Eels offloads prove costly, the Raiders' milestone men celebrate in style and power and possession prove to be a potent combination.
'Leipana' pairing something to savour
They are not what you would call a classical centre-wing combination but Joey Leilua and Jordan Rapana are quickly establishing themselves as the most influential pairing of the modern era.
The majority of Canberra's attacking potency against Parramatta had some kind of influence from 'Leipana' and more often than not when one went looking for the football the other followed close behind.
When Leilua went infield to take a hit-up and managed to get an offload away in the 21st minute it was Rapana who was there to collect it and when the game was in the balance at 6-all through 25 minutes Leilua and Rapana completely turned the momentum of the contest.
Seeing his man in space Leilua passed early so that Rapana could sprint down the touchline with only centimetres between his right boot and the sideline before Rapana passed superbly inside for Blake Austin to score.
Two minutes later Leilua was the one in support when Rapana offloaded a bomb he had grasped only a metre or so from the Parramatta try-line, the powerful centre putting boot to ball before grounding it for a try.
With their team under the pump midway through the second half Rapana leapt high to cleanly defuse a bomb and earned a penalty in the play-the-ball. From the tap kick Leilua took the hit-up and earned a penalty of his own.
To consistently come up with the plays that they do is something we should revel in for as long as it lasts.
Power and possession a deadly combination
Despite the best efforts of Nathan Brown, Manu Ma'u and Suaia Matagi it was clear early that the massive Raiders forwards were winning the middle.
Combine that with 60 per cent of the football at a completion rate of 87 per cent and it is unsurprising that they were able to finish the first 40 minutes with a point-scoring spree that provided them with a 16-point buffer that the Eels were never able to reel in.
Completion rates have not been Canberra's strong suit in the first month of the season but with a final tally of 59 per cent possession at 79 per cent completions it's little wonder they extended Parramatta's misery in the national capital into a 12th year.
Eels offloads come back to haunt them
They have shown a great propensity to promote the football through the opening rounds of the competition but the Eels' offloads came back to haunt them against the Raiders.
Tim Mannah and Nathan Brown were both guilty of handing over possession with ill-timed offloads inside their own half, allowing the Raiders to continue to test the Parramatta defence from close range.
Parramatta's 11 offloads were two down on their pre-match average of 13 per game but the two that went astray at a critical time contributed to their 11 errors and put the Raiders on the front foot.
Milestone men celebrate in style
Any player will tell you that the best way to mark a milestone is with a win and so it is that Aidan Sezer and Jarrod Croker will be able to celebrate two significant milestones in style on Saturday night.
Playing in his 100th NRL game Aidan Sezer's third try assist of the season saw Sia Soliola score the opening try of the game while Jarrod Croker brought up his 100th try in the NRL after pouncing on a Josh Hodgson grubber from close range just before half-time.
Having moved past Terry Lamb last week to become the 19th greatest point-scorer in premiership history, Croker became just the fifth player to score 100 tries and kick 500 goals with his try and five goals taking his career tally to 1,460 points.
Perhaps the most under-appreciated high achiever the game has seen, Croker produced two line breaks and five tackle breaks in yet another strong all-round performance that best the question: Is his headgear all that is holding him back from higher honours?
Vave making big impression for Eels
Parramatta's pack is built on hard-edged tough guys but as Canberra showed on Saturday there is no substitute for size which is why Siosaia Vave could become a crucial cog for the Eels in the coming weeks.
After Nathan Brown threw himself into every carry with vigour in the first half, Vave was the one to get Parramatta rumbling forward in the second half, racking up 84 metres from just eight carries across 22 minutes of game time.
In his Eels debut the week prior the former Sea Eagle, Shark and Storm prop ran for 114 metres from 12 carries, packing plenty of punch against a seasoned Sharks forward pack.
The Raiders big boppers had 166 more post-contact metres than the Eels but Vave showed enough to suggest the more time he can punch out the greater impact he will have.
POST MATCH COVERAGE