There’s not much joy to be had when writing about your team in a season like this. Most of the readers of TCT would surely sympathise with contributors who’ve had the challenge of analysing losses literally every week.
It would therefore come as a surprise for me to share that after a 40 point win, writing this post was difficult for me. Why? Because in reviewing the performance, no one player stood out.
Certainly some had more influence, some had more brilliant, skilful touches but is that not how it should be? Let’s consider how the win was achieved.
For Moses to take the line on and show his brilliance does he not require our forwards to make ground and get quick play the balls?
When Norman, Hayne, Gutherson and Jennings confused their opposites did they not look for quick service from the dummy half and first receiver? Wasn’t their job made easier by edge forwards running hard, straight lines to break up the defence?
Getting back to my original point, no one player stood out. What does that mean?
It meant we watched a team, not a group of individuals, who each knew the role they had to fulfil. Furthermore, they did that for the entire 80 minutes. They did their job.
But, if I do acknowledge some major contributors, these fellas have to rate a mention.
Hayne demonstrated class and leadership.
Gutherson provided energy.
Brown inspired in both attack and defence.
Moses kicked with a clear purpose.
Norman organised the defensive line and really had a go.
And on that defensive line, they finally defended as one, moved as one, and covered each other.
This all basically meant a return to “Parra footy” and a return to the identity of the team that I had come to really admire in the previous seasons.
We all understand that changes will occur over the off season, including the roster, but I also know that as long as my team has the right attitude, desire and commitment they will be fine and have my support.
The play that best exemplified that commitment, attitude and team work was the George Jennings try. That try was set up at the preceding scrum when the same set play saw Hayne get the ball with the Dragons rushing him. The team didn’t get frustrated by the Dragons success in shutting it down. Instead they showed patience, composure and had options. The better option the second time round was to give Jennings the ball because everyone thought Hayne was getting it. George ran hard and straight like he has all year and got the reward he deserved. From the stands the balance between structure and adaptability was on the mark then, just as it was all night.
Part of the changes likely to occur next year relates to the potential we see in the younger brigade of players. Saturday provided the opportunity for the Eels faithful to watch the Jersey Flegg team play. Though there were many eligible players unavailable due to their elevation to NRL and ISP, I certainly saw what many have been saying. The talent coming through is impressive and they can contribute to our club becoming great.
But there’s a word of caution. These young players need to be surrounded by players with talent and the right attitude. They need exposure to NRL preparation and they need to play alongside players who will either mentor their development or share in the same journey. Hint – we need a Parra ISP team.
The first grade players and coaches should help to drive that attitude. That improved commitment from the NRL team over the past 7-8 weeks was matched by better execution and the rewards followed. Hopefully those young Jersey Flegg players were still there and watching from the stands as the Eels NRL demonstrated their wares.
I loved watching the Flegg boys and so did my son. The crowd was not huge for the Flegg game but the club, NRL and or NSWRL have created the situation in which people have been conditioned to not turn up early for prelims. It will take time for people to be reconditioned. It must surely make young Eels Flegg players “Parra aspirational” when they play in front of a larger crowd and then watch some of their recently graduated mates go around in the NRL game.
Three games to go. I hope we keep moving forward, and keep climbing out of the hole we got ourselves into. Melbourne in Melbourne is very hard, especially after they’ve suffered consecutive defeats, but if Parra turn up with the right attitude and effort they can very much compete.
I have faith that they will and I look forward to a continuation of the Eels late season form.