NRL 2022: Positive RAT test found at 4 Pines Park media room after Eels win 36-20 over Manly Sea Eagles

It was shambolic scenes at 4 Pines Park after Parramatta’s win over Manly, with a positive RAT test found in the post-match press conference media room.

There were dramatic scenes following Friday night’s game at 4 Pines Park after a positive RAT was found in the post-match media room before Manly’s and Parramatta’s coaches were due to speak.

An NRL official was alerted and discussed the situation with both the Sea Eagles and Eels while journalists remained in the room roughly four metres from the test.

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It’s unclear where the positive test came from given players and staff from both clubs, as well as the media, tested negative as part of regular pre-game Covid tests.

Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler came out for his scheduled press conference while skipper Daly Cherry-Evans played it safe and stayed in the sheds to avoid being exposed to the test which was removed by an NRL official.

After a lengthy delay, the Eels informed journalists that coach Brad Arthur would not be doing his scheduled media commitments inside the room.

Instead, the press conference was moved outside where Arthur was forced to hold two mobile phones belonging to journalists while he answered questions as a stadium employee noisily wheeled a trolley during one of the final questions.

The shambolic end to the night continued when Parramatta players refused to do interviews after the game to avoid any risk of being exposed to the virus.

It’s a reminder that the virus remains an ongoing threat to the competition, and it could lead some times to renter bubbles ahead of the finals or at least reconsider allowing their players to mingle with fans after games.

ARTHUR GETS LAST LAUGH AS HATERS EAT HUMBLE PIE

Brent Read

Parramatta halfback Jakob Arthur had the last laugh at 4 Pines Park on Friday night. The only booing came from disenchanted Manly fans and it was directed largely at their own team after an insipid second half performance that effectively brought down the curtain on the Sea Eagles’ season.

The Eels fans - and we use that term loosely - who targeted Arthur a fortnight ago were forced to eat humble pie as the No.7 stepped into the shoes of Mitchell Moses and helped inspire a second half surge that may have saved Parramatta’s season.

Arthur, the son of Eels coach Brad Arthur, had a quiet first half but came to life in the second as he made his first appearance since being jeered a fortnight ago when Parramatta were beaten by Brisbane at Commbank Stadium.

Jakob Arthur got the last laugh over his Parramatta haters, setting up one of the tries of the season against Manly. Picture: NRL Imagery.
Jakob Arthur got the last laugh over his Parramatta haters, setting up one of the tries of the season against Manly. Picture: NRL Imagery.

On that night, he was jeered when his name appeared on the scoreboard before the game. He was jeered again when he ran on the field. He was targeted by a section of the crowd who should hang their heads in shame.

It was pathetic from a section of the Parramatta faithful. Remarkably, Arthur received a better reception on Friday night at 4 Pines Park as he helped fill the creative void created by Moses’ absence.

Moses was heavily involved in the warmup before the game. He then took a seat on the sidelines as Arthur was the last Eels player to jog onto the field. By the time he made his way onto a jam-packed 4 Pines Park, the booing was starting to dissipate.

Early on, it looked like Moses wouldn’t be missed. The Eels raced to an early lead as captain Clint Gutherson picked up the slack in his absence.

Arthur produced a stunning Harbour Bridge pass to Waqa Blake who came up with some freakish gymnastics to get the try. Picture: Getty Images.
Arthur produced a stunning Harbour Bridge pass to Waqa Blake who came up with some freakish gymnastics to get the try. Picture: Getty Images.

Arthur had little to do in the opening 40 minutes but he burst to life in the second half with a harbour bridge pass that prompted one of the tries of the season - and may have rescued the Eels’ year in the process.

The Eels were down by six points when Waqa Blake grasped Arthur’s pass in his fingertips and somehow managed to get it down in the corner with his entire body airborne over the sideline. To borrow a line from Ray Warren, it wasn’t a try, it was a miracle.

Arthur wasn’t finished. Gutherson scored a try of his own to give the Eels a lead but Arthur helped put the game to bed with 11 minutes remaining as he put through a well-weighted kick for centre Will Penisini that helped the Eels to a 14-point lead.

Parramatta players celebrated and Arthur was in the centre of it. The 19-year-old has copped a hammering this season, if not from his own fans than on social media. He has been battered from pillar to post.

On Friday night, he showed the rugby league world - and those so-called Parramatta fans who took delight out of making his life a misery - that he warrants his place in first grade.

Asked about the pressure he has been under, Arthur said: “All the boys have been really good to me. I haven’t really worried about or heard it.”

WATCH: TRY OF THE YEAR CONTENDER ENDS MANLY’S FINALS DREAM

All eyes were on the returning boycotters but in the end it was a couple of former Sea Eagles who returned to their old stomping ground to sink the boot in as Manly’s top eight hopes went up in smoke to cap a tumultuous fortnight on the northern beaches.

The Sea Eagles are now four points outside the top eight after they coughed up a second half lead to go down 36-20 in front of a sold out 4 Pines Park crowd hoping to see a bounce back after seven of their best players sat out a week ago.

Three members of the boycott brigade who skipped last week’s costly loss to the Roosters scored, with Jason Saab breaking the line four times in his best game in a Manly jersey, but it wasn’t enough as the hosts faded late to leave their fans clinging to the dreaded ‘mathematical chance’ of making the finals.

The Sea Eagles finals hopes are all but over after their loss to Parramatta, as they now sit four points outside the top eight. Picture: Getty Images.
The Sea Eagles finals hopes are all but over after their loss to Parramatta, as they now sit four points outside the top eight. Picture: Getty Images.

“I thought we went into half-time in pretty good shape,” coach Des Hasler said.

“There were some tackles we had to make there but we just didn’t make them.

“We’ve got to win the next four from four. Realistically it gives us a chance. Anything less isn’t going to work.

“I think we’ve got the players to do it. We’ve just got to find a way.”

To make matters worse, veteran five-eighth Kieran Foran finished the game with ice on his hamstring and is in doubt for next week’s trip to the Gold Coast to take on his future teammates.

“He’ll be doubtful. He’s got a mild hammy strain,” Hasler said.

KING LIVES LIFE IN THE FAST LANE

There were no boos from the Brookvale faithful but there weren’t many cheers after half-time as a local junior returned to torch the team that handed him his NRL debut.

Clint Gutherson has long been Parramatta’s spiritual leader and he delivered a timely masterclass in Mitch Moses’ absence to keep Parramatta in touch with the top four.

The Cromer Kingfishers junior was fantastic on Friday night, setting up two Maika Sivo tries inside the opening 10 minutes before he picked up an audacious offload from former Sea Eagle Shaun Lane to set up Tom Opacic to tie things up before the break.

Lane was equally destructive on the left edge and it was fitting that he popped another perfect pass to Gutherson who left Reuben Garrick for dead to spark a three-try blitz in 10 minutes to sink the Sea Eagles.

Gutherson finished the game with 174 metres, three try assists, two line breaks and a try on a night when his side needed him most.

Eels skipper Clint Gutherson stood up in the absence of Mitchell Moses to guide his team to victory. Picture: Getty Images.
Eels skipper Clint Gutherson stood up in the absence of Mitchell Moses to guide his team to victory. Picture: Getty Images.
Another former Sea Eagle, Shaun Lane terrorised Manly with his offloads. Picture: Getty Images.
Another former Sea Eagle, Shaun Lane terrorised Manly with his offloads. Picture: Getty Images.

FINISH OF THE YEAR

Someone calls the gymnastics judges in Birmingham because Waqa Blake nailed a perfect 10 on Friday night to score one of the tries of the season in his 150th NRL appearance.

The Eels winger did his best Inspector Gadget impression to somehow plant the ball down even though his entire body was well outside the field of play.

What made the moment even more special was that it was young Jake Arthur who threw a spectacular Harbour Bridge style pass to set up his winger just two weeks after he was booed by sections of the CommBank Stadium crowd.

Eels winger Waqa Blake produced arguably the try of the year in the corner. Picture: Getty Images.
Eels winger Waqa Blake produced arguably the try of the year in the corner. Picture: Getty Images.

HARPER’S BIZARRE

Graham Annesley will have another fun Monday trying to explain why the Sea Eagles weren’t awarded a penalty try in the second half.

The full house at 4 Pines Park were howling when it looked like Morgan Harper was held back by Will Penisini as he chased through a rolling ball near the try line, but the Bunker showed them no love and ruled that the Eels centre was merely trying to get around Harper to the loose ball.

It was a bizarre sequence given Harper had every opportunity to pick up the Steeden, and to make matters worse, he was then pinged for a knock on as he tried to ground the ball.

Originally published as NRL 2022: Positive RAT test found at 4 Pines Park media room after Eels win 36-20 over Manly Sea Eagles

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