Parramatta coach Kearney clinging to hope
The last thing struggling Parramatta need this Friday is a meeting the NRL's form team and bitter rivals Canterbury.
However, coach Stephen Kearney said he has little choice but to take some crumbs of comfort from his side's second-half display against Manly going into the ANZ Stadium encounter.
Last Sunday's first-half performance at Brookvale was a new low in a torrid season for the Eels.
Trailing 40-0 after 46 minutes, they did manage to add some respectability to the scoreline by scoring 24 unanswered points but Kearney admitted the damage had already been done.
"You have to take a little bit of confidence out of it - sometimes in that situation you are damned if you do, damned if you don't," Kearney said.
"We showed a bit of pride and, although Manly took their eye off the ball, the lads certainly showed what they are capable of.
"We've looked at what we did wrong and all we can do is try and improve on them."
The Eels' season took another turn for the worse this week when hooker Matt Keating was ruled out for the rest of 2012 with a bulging disc.
Keating joins superstar fullback Jarryd Hayne in the treatment room and Kearney admits the news is a big blow.
"It's a shame for Matty and the team," Kearney said.
"He's been a real consistent performer particularly over the last few months and, in a difficult season, he has been a real stand-out."
Des Hasler's side have won their past six matches and bookmakers have shown how little faith they have in the Eels by giving them a massive 18.5-point start for the round-19 showdown.
In addition to facing a confident Bulldogs side, Kearney is well aware his players must curb the threat of Krisnan Inu.
The New Zealand Test coach knows full well the abilities of the centre who's been a sensation since his mid-season switch to Belmore from the Warriors, scoring seven tries in five games and kicking 16 goals.
"Coming into a structure like theirs with his talent, he only compliments what they are doing," Kearney said.
"He is a real danger for them. They are playing so well as a team that Kris really stands out for them."