What a week!
Was it everything that you Eels supporters expected, or was it even more?
A wise man suggested to me that the Eels would win comfortably. In my wildest dreams, a half century score line was not on the cards.
I have to confess that the Friday training session had me thinking that the team was really switched on and ready to provide something special. That said, I didn’t expect such a demolition.
The trip to BankWest on Monday was like a trip down memory lane. It was around midday and there were people in Eels colours filling the streets as they ventured down to O’Connell St. This is what playing back at a true home looks like.
It was everything!
I attended the service at the Church of St Pricey, Old Saleyards, and bore witness to a high energy opposed session. The contact seemed to have a bit more bite than I would normally expect from training during the season proper, but after defeats in all grades last week, it wasn’t surprising.
The NRL team were sharp. Very sharp. The attacking intent would be manifested three days later in the Easter Monday demolition of the Tigers.
Later, on the other side of Sydney, the SG Ball and Tarsha Gale teams were engaged in semi final battles. Unfortunately the girls season came to an end, but it was high drama in the 18s Ball clash between the Eels and the Bulldogs.
With literally seconds left on the clock, 16 year old halfback Jake Arthur nailed a long range field goal to break a ten all deadlock. How he survived the ensuing pile on from his team mates might be one of life’s mysteries.
The grand final qualifier at Campbelltown now awaits.
Unfortunately, the Eels Jersey Flegg team suffered their fifth defeat of the season going down to the Wests Tigers by 36 to 10. After crossing for two early tries and skipping out to 10 nil lead, the Tigers piled on 36 points to run out convincing winners and continue the Eels woes.
The Flegg team are paying the price of losing a number of players to the Eels NRL and Wenty teams, as well as key injuries. I’m expecting some SG Ball players to be elevated once their season is over, and hopefully the team will be further bolstered by players returning from injury.
Preparations are wrapped up with a Captain’s run at BankWest Stadium. The Eels had previously completed the Wednesday Night Open training session at the stadium.
This was the second Captain’s Run to be held at the stadium, with the previous run being before the Raiders clash. Undoubtedly, this was a different feel, with the match to be played in just over 24 hours.
Whose home ground is this?
We’re home baby! BankWest Stadium.
Reed Mahoney’s 21st birthday.
Past Parra legends are at the ground to welcome the Eels back to their brilliant new venue. Ray Stone – may we introduce you to Ray Higgs and Ray Price?
How good to have a football curtain raiser with Wenty taking on the Wests Magpies! And the crowd arrived early to provide the Canterbury Cup players with plenty of support in the warm conditions.
Bevan French entered his name into the history books with the first ever try in any grade at BankWest. But he wasn’t just satisfied with that. The flying fullback helped himself to a try scoring double and a try assist in Wenty’s 20 to 14 victory.
Being in the Stadium in the lead up to the kick off will be a never forgotten experience. The seats filled and the anticipation was palpable.
The inclusion of past legends in the pre-match ceremony was fitting, and those watching at home were probably as inspired as the players as Ray Price provided the kind of “advice” that only Pricey can.
In over half a century of attending matches at this place, be it Cumberland Oval, Parramatta Stadium and now BankWest, I have never heard a roar like the one accompanied the Mitch Moses try. The players have since reported that the general crowd noise made it difficult to hear the calls. Well, that roar from the first ever try must have nearly lifted the roof.
Moses would go on to match his first try with the first goal and the first field goal in the Eels 51 to 6 destruction of the Tigers. It was as comprehensive as any Eels victory during Brad Arthur’s tenure.
In an unwanted collection of firsts, the Eels lost Daniel Alvaro in the first tackle with Polar becoming the first player to have a HIA at BankWest, and the first to fail it. Matterson should have been the first sent to the sin bin.
One of my favourite moments was seeing giant youngster, Oregon Kaufusi cross for his first ever NRL try. The joy from the other players in celebrating Oggy’s try spoke volumes for the spirit in the team and the respect they have for this talented player.
In another touching moment, images were shared of Big D – Denis Anderson – looking on as the dressing rooms were named in his honour. Denis is a much loved member of the Eels family, having worked and volunteered tirelessly for the club for around four decades. Our thoughts are with the great man.
It’s unusual to have a team list Tuesday less than 24 hours after the final siren. With only a recovery session between the game and team announcement, it was no surprise to see minimal changes to the winning team.
The return of Blake Ferguson will be welcomed by many, though Josh Hoffman more than did his job in a fine performance.
Manu Ma’u seems close to making his return from injury, having been named on an extended bench. If he proves his fitness, a tough call could be waiting for Brad Arthur.
M and A Accounting and Consultancy extend their commercial partnership with the Eels, becoming a back of shorts sponsor till then end of the season. Passionate supporters such as Jason Malkoun are an important part of not just helping the Eels towards eliminating football club deficits, they are also sending a message of confidence to other potential corporate partners.
ANZAC Day training takes place at Old Saleyards. This is the opposed session in a six day turn around week. We speak to Tim Mannah about the experience and he confirms that the noise from the crowd was sensational.
It’s media call day, and in his interview Shaun Lane discusses how much he enjoys the extra responsibility placed upon himself this year. In what is a common theme among the players he states his admiration of Arthur’s coaching and reports that BA was a big part of why he came to the Eels.
There’s been plenty of media noise around the signatures of Brad Arthur, Clint Gutherson and Mitch Moses. I’m not forgetting that there are many other players off contract, as well as the staff who would be impacted should Arthur not be re-signed.
Unquestionably, the staff and players need to be commended for their form in the opening six weeks. It’s natural that anybody without guaranteed income past October would be thinking about what lies ahead. We expect them to be fully professional and perform at their best, with the standard line of “the rest will look after itself.” The fact that they are doing exactly that, when there are so many key individuals involved, is a tribute to the character of all of the group.
At the moment I am trusting that the processes will deliver what is best for the club. I welcomed the reported recent suggestion from the chairman of the Eels Board, Sean McElduff, that the decision on Brad Arthur might be fast tracked.
Our coach is the man to take this team into the future. His signature will provide much needed clarity in the negotiations with the off-contract players. The sooner the better.