I was a very proud supporter as I left Bankwest on Saturday night. While the win was obviously pleasing, I was proud of the supporters, the club and obviously the team. The whole day showed why we as a club have so much potential and at the risk of stating a cliché, we really are the sleeping giants of the competition.
Being able to watch three grades was wonderful for my family, especially seeing some of the juniors that we have heard so much about play in person.
When first grade began the stadium filled and you could feel the excitement amongst the crowd. We had four older ladies from Newcastle who had travelled down by train behind us. I would guess they had to be at least 80 years old. They were very loud, opinionated and had blue and red eyes painted on. They were wonderful and I hope that when I reach their age I still have the passion and commitment for my team that they do.
That aside, two moments in the game stood out for me and probably most fans at the ground. The first was the wonderful defensive set with 28 minutes to go. Somehow, the Knights had managed to get in front of us on the scoreboard, as they always do. We turned the ball over down near the Knights line. We needed to turn momentum and we did just that. Our defensive line moved up quickly and shut the Knights down.
Junior started it with a wonderful first up tackle, then Lane, Jennings and Brown proceeded to do the same in the next 4 tackles. By the time Takairangi caught the ball on the half way line, we had turned momemtum, we lifted the intensity in the match and from that point on only one team was going to win the game.
It has been a long time since I have been able to say that my team collectively lifted intensity to a level that the opposition could not match. The crowd loved it and responded by lifting the noise in the stadium. It was a telling moment in the game and displayed the growth in this team; we are becoming confident and are now defending as team in unison.
The second moment was the beautiful try to Reed Mahoney.
From the stands there was so much to like about that try. Junior Paulo’s skill and game awareness, Mahoney’s effort and toughness but for me the ability to respond to the opposition tactics is a very pleasing development in our attack.
Ever since the Broncos game in Rd 15 our opposition have been rushing us in defence as we shift the ball. The Knights dented our attack most game, by rushing up out wide. But, defending this way takes effort and also takes a lot of energy.
At the ground you could see the Knights tiring and at this time the Eels started attacking them in and around the ruck. If we can continue to become dangerous in and around the ruck it will open up space for us out wide. This try displayed really good game management and awareness. How often have we been able to say that in the last decade?
It is very exciting to see our team improve. While I am not oblivious to the areas we still need to work on, it is pleasing to watch the team employ a well structured and attacking game plan. It may not work every week but it is such a long way away from my observations last season that regularly revolved around the phrase ‘what are they doing’.
My only hope for the remainder of the season is this; from the stands I want my team to be in the game, to stay composed and to dig in. If they do that they will get my vocal support and I dare say every other supporters respect.
Well done to our players, coaches, club officials and supporters. I’ve been to every game this season at BankWest and it has been invigorating to watch our club rebuild from the disaster that was season 2018 and to become more unified. While it is still too fresh to forget the torture of last season, it may very well turn out to be one of the most important seasons in our club’s history.