Blake was still at Penrith this time last year before making the short trek up the M4 Motorway to the club’s bitter rivals on a long-term deal.
Arthur happily admitted his half-time rev-up had the desired effect after his team were beaten in most “energy and effort” areas in the opening 40 minutes.
“I gave them a fair rocket before they went back out,” Arthur saud.
“We knew we had to stick at it, we had done the work in the pre-season, and we finished strongly.
“[Blake] turned the game, I was really happy for him up against his old club. He works extremely hard. That was a nice fend, nice try, and he gave us a touch more energy and confidence.”
Parramatta enjoyed almost 70 per cent of the possession in the second half and were always going to be tough to stop.
They still needed to survive a few anxious moments as the Panthers attacked late. The tension levels went through the roof when Dylan Brown was given 10 minutes in the bin for holding a player down in the tackle, and his 12 teammates were forced to defend their line for one last play before emerging 16-10 victors.
It was the sort of tough blowout they needed with premiers the Sydney Roosters and grand finalists Canberra awaiting them in the next fortnight.
“We’ll know how we’re going next week against them, won’t we?” Arthur said.
Those select few given the chance to be inside Bankwest Stadium will no doubt be already starting to dream big. It’s what Eels fans always do.
Penrith were far from disgraced and Cleary will only improve with the hit-out.
Forced to sit out two matches because of his Anzac Day social-distancing drama, Cleary looked fit and had no problems steering the mountain men around the park in attack.
When pint-sized winger Brian To’o slid across the line with three Eels defenders on his back for the first try, cheeky Eels officials started blaring The Weeknd’s Blinding Lights as Cleary took the conversion. It was not lost on some that it was the same song Cleary danced to in the famous TikTok video that landed him in hot water.
The Panthers host Melbourne next week and will be without Kurt Capewell, who hobbled off in back play with a knee injury in the opening set.
Blue-collar forward Liam Martin did a brilliant job when forced to play a lot more minutes than expected.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said his team started to “drift when we needed to go for the throat” early in the second half. They did the same thing a fortnigfht earlier againt Newcastle.
The two western Sydney rivals made sure there was plenty of feeling in the early encounters.
Eels prop Junior Paulo whacked Caleb Aekins while another former Panther, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, pulled off a bell-ringer on James Fisher-Harris.
Both teams had claims for early tries, including the Eels when Matterson pounced on Mitch Moses’ bomb that was allowed bounce. Replays showed Blake Ferguson had taken out Crichton in the lead-up.
The Panthers felt hard done by when Dean Whare put his hands on the shoulders of Michael Jennings and came down with a Cleary kick to score. Coach Cleary shook his head and said “you’ll open up a can of worms if that’s not a try”.
Jennings, one of several former Panthers decked out in the blue and gold, had a tough night on his edge as a few of his passes trickled into touch, including right on half-time as the Eels tried desperately to get on the scoreboard.
Returning Eels lock Nathan Brown was his usual inspirational best, especially in his second stint, and chalked up 143m with one barnstorming run leading to Matterson’s try.
PARRAMATTA 16 (W Blake C Gutherson R Matterson tries M Moses 2 goals) bt PENRITH 10 (J Mansour B To’o tries N Cleary goal) at Bankwest Stadium. Referee: Gerard Sutton.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.