Warriors lose season opener to Eels 36-16
It's been a miserable five seasons for Parramatta fans, but the Eels' long-suffering faithful were given hope of better things to come after watching their team brush aside the Warriors 36-16 on Sunday.
The Eels went into the new campaign on the back of successive wooden spoons and without a finals appearance since their memorable run to the 2009 grand final.
But it was the perfect start for new coach Brad Arthur whose side produced some exciting, free-flowing play at Parramatta Stadium and showed an organisation in defence that's been sorely lacking in recent years.
Jarryd Hayne has been the Eels' go-to man ever since he made his debut in 2006, but the NSW superstar looks to have some support this season.
Will Hopoate, on debut, showed glimpses of the quality that earned him a NSW appearance in 2011 before his two-year Mormon mission.
Wingers Semi Radradra and Vai Toutai both scored hat-tricks and the scoreline would have looked more emphatic had the hosts not missed four of eight kicks on goal.
Radradra and Hayne opened the scoring with early tries but a Glen Fisiiahi effort reduced the deficit after a good pass from big-money signing Sam Tomkins.
But Toutai stretched the hosts' lead with his first four-pointer after good work from Hopoate to put the Eels fully in control.
However, they were rocked on the stroke of halftime by a an eight-point try that gave them only a two-point buffer to show for all their dominance.
Tomkins' fine pass found Carlos Tuimavave for the try but a stray arm from Peni Terepo split the centre's nose as he scored and Shaun Johnson added a kick from the sideline and then from in front of the posts.
Terepo was placed on report following the incident but that setback failed to to derail the Eels after the restart.
Radradra adding his second in the 43rd minute and then completed his treble when Tomkins failed to hang on to a high bomb.
Manu Vatuvei kept the visitors in the game with a close-range effort but the Eels continued to press with Hayne unlucky to be denied a magnificent try by a double movement ruling.
Tautai added his second on the hour mark when he raced over untouched and then completed his hat-trick much to the delight of the noisy crowd of 14,397.