Robinson backs under-fire playmaker Maloney

IAN MCCULLOUGH
Last updated 01:13 13/04/2014

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Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson says under-fire five-eighth James Maloney shouldn't take all the blame for the NRL premiers' alarming form slump.

The Roosters sunk to a third straight loss to the same Eels side they clocked up 50 points against last month, in an absorbing encounter at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday.

Maloney's poor recent displays have put his place in the NSW side for this year's State of Origin series in doubt, with coach Laurie Daley this week saying he needed to raise his game to guarantee selection.

The former Warriors star and halves partner Mitchell Pearce had the lowest number of forced restarts last year and although they did produce two in the first half, they were unable to drive their side onto the scoreboard in the second period.

Maloney's miserable evening was compounded 10 minutes from time when he threw the ball into touch when his side were just 20 metres from the Eels line.

Robinson refused to single out Maloney for criticism, but he did admit some of the fifth tackle options taken by his halves were not good enough.

"Some were really good and some were really poor," Robinson said.

"We had both ends of the spectrum on fifth tackle. We are playing some good footy but we lack the steely edge to finish the game.

"I think we've all got improvement in us. Not just Jimmy, the coaches, all of our players.

"This is testing us at the moment. We have to improve."

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- AAP

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