Gutsy Parramatta Eels fight hard for the same pain

Parramatta can't be criticised for this one.

Even if they fell at the same hurdle for the fourth time in five years, the story of the Eels failing to deliver in the finals just won't ring true.

The Eels were gutsy, brave, resolute and tough. In the end, they were everything but winners.

The scoreline summed it up, 8-6 losers. Defeated in the lowest-scoring game of this attack-heavy year.

Coach Brad Arthur just wanted Parramatta to stay in the fight. That when the final minutes ticked down, the Eels were either ahead or still in the game.

And on Saturday night, the Eels gave him what he wanted. Everything bar the win.

With one year left on his contract, Arthur has been insistent this week that few clubs could boast the recent record the Eels do.

That most would love four finals appearances in the past five years.

But still, the story has been their horror trend in the second week of the finals.

They capitulated against North Queensland in 2017, were blown out of the water by Melbourne two years later and fell apart against South Sydney last year.

But this game was different.

Penrith had enough good ball to win Saturday night's semi-final by 20 points.

And after a regular season where they lost just three games and long looked destined for a grand final, they were probably entitled to it as well.

But someone forgot to tell the Eels.

They scored first through Waqa Blake when Dylan Edwards couldn't handle a Mitch Moses bomb, but after that, the next hour was virtually all Penrith.

The Panthers should have scored on Parramatta's flimsy right-edge, but this time Blake Ferguson and co. held on.

They were denied through an obstruction off a scrum, missed another opportunity when Jarome Luai was offside on a kick chase.

But through it all, the Eels fulfilled Arthur's wish. They stayed in the fight.

It was only late that Parramatta had their chances to come up for air.

An Apisai Koroisau error 20 metres out handed them the ball, and Mitch Moses secured a repeat set.

With four minutes left they lost momentum when Penrith stopped play for Mitch Kenny with an injured foot in back play.

"No, you can't stop the play," Eels legend Peter Sterling screamed on Nine's commentary.

"He gets his foot trodden on. That's why he stayed down."

Their attack went with the stoppage, a Moses kick coming up empty two plays later.

Another opportunity came from a Penrith error with less than two minutes to go.

From the scrum, Junior Paulo tried to barge over, before Reagan Campbell-Gillard took a settler.

Then, from dummy-half makeshift hooker Ray Stone threw a poor pass out the front of Paulo.

He put it down, and for the Eels, it was the same result the Parramatta fans have grown so used to.

The same old story, even if the scenario was so different.