Parramatta fans savage 'dumbest decision' after NRL deal with Darwin backfires brutally

The Eels haven't won in the Top End since 2021 and were blown off the park by the Dolphins.

It's the question Parramatta fans are still asking days after their team's embarrassing loss to the Dolphins. Why give up a home game to play in hot and steamy Darwin?

The Eels were labelled a part-time football team by coach Brad Arthur after collapsing against the Dolphins on Friday night, going down 44-16 at TIO Stadium. The blue and golds led 8-4 at the break before conceding eight tries in a pitiful second half display.

Clint Gutherson and Parramatta Eels players.
Parramatta's decision to play in Darwin has backfired in recent years. Image: Getty/AAP

Remarkably, the Dolphins were missing half a dozen regulars and were without coach Wayne Bennett, who didn’t make the trip due to illness. Angry and frustrated Parra fans are now hoping their team doesn’t make the trip in the future after three straight losses in the Top End.

The Eels signed a 10-year deal with the Northern Territory government in 2013 to take a home game to Darwin each season and have enthusiastically backed the venture. "When the draw release comes out, we always mark the NT game in our calendar. It’s one of our favourite trips of the year," skipper Clint Gutherson said. "The Territory has always felt like another home for us. We love connecting with the fans, there are so many familiar faces who have showed up to support us over the years and we really appreciate them."

Arthur added: "We really enjoy it up here. The boys enjoy getting away and the reception's always positive."

Dolphins players, pictured here during their win over the Eels.
The Eels were thrashed by the Dolphins in steamy conditions in Darwin.

Parramatta Eels fans left fuming over Darwin farce

The Eels won on six on their first seven visits but are now winless since 2021. All three recent defeats were in April, when Darwin's average temperature is 29c and humidity sits at 72 per cent.

The majority of the Eels' wins in the NT have come in the cooler months of June and August. Eels fans are praying the deal with the Northern Territory government is not renewed, unloading on the club following Friday night's shambolic performance.

"Dumbest decision to play in Darwin at this time of year when it's so hot and humid, plus playing a QLD team. Might as well just forfeit this game every year. Stupid decision," one wrote on the club's Facebook page. Another said: "We’re only there for the money. It’s a business so winning games comes second."

Parramatta will sit in 14th spot at the end of the round following a 3-4 start to the season. They are sweating on the return of star halfback Mitchell Moses from injury.