Parramatta playmaker Mitchell Moses has piled more pressure on Canterbury after orchestrating a 20-4 NRL victory at ANZ Stadium on Thursday night.
While the score never blew out in wet and wild conditions, the Bulldogs were wasteful in attack and at times embarrassing in defence as the Eels notched their sixth straight win.
Brad Arthur’s side provisionally moved into the top four and are on the march with four regular rounds left, fuelling belief they can be a force in the finals.
Moses set up two tries and turned in a masterful kicking game having discovered career-best form since his mid-season move from Wests Tigers.
In driving rain, the Eels forced nine goal-line drop-outs to two, strangling the Bulldogs out of the game.
Daniel Alvaro’s opening try set the tempo for the match as he carried James Graham and Aiden Tolman over the line.
The game was summed up when the Bulldogs finally got inside Parramatta’s 20m zone for the first time in the 24th minute, only to drop the ball on the next play.
In the next set of six tackles, Parramatta made their way upfield with Mitchell Moses punching through to send Bevan French over.
Moses at times toyed with the Bulldogs defence, running 20m across field before firing a spiral pass for Semi Radradra’s try which made it 16-0 at the break.
They were unlucky not to extend their lead after Corey Norman ran 60m to score only to be called back because of a knock-on.
Replays showed he didn’t get a hand to the ball.
The game was marred in the second half when Eels prop Frank Pritchard suggested to the referee he had been bitten by David Klemmer,.
Pritchard did not make a formal allegation and later told reporters it was a joke between former teammates.
Canterbury’s third loss in a row will only fuel speculation about coach Des Hasler’s future.
Hasler rolled the dice by shifting centre Chase Stanley to halfback and dropping hooker Michael Lichaa.
Arthur has been reluctant to talk up Parramatta’s top-eight hopes but concedes his side was well poised to go deep into the finals.
“If we can continue to improve every week and stick to our plan like we did tonight with our discipline and not get carried away, we can make some real noise,” he said.
Hasler said it was a cop out to suggest speculation about his job security had contributed to the loss.
“You don’t have to be a football whiz to work out that we made it very easy for them in the first half,” Hasler said.