Is it possible for a supporter to gain in confidence after a loss?
I confess, I never look forward to the Roosters game as I always fear a flogging. In the previous three matches against the Eels they had racked up 21 tries. That’s a try every 12 minutes. The last Roosters match I had attended was the 2017 massacre at the SFS. What a nightmare that was!
Before Saturday night, I was hoping Parra could match them.
It was obvious from the outset that the Eels were playing an exceptionally coached and drilled team who don’t drop the ball, don’t beat themselves, and play relentlessly for 80 minutes.
Throw in some exceptionally talented footballers and you have the absolute standout team for the competition.
Say whatever you will about the Roosters, and their sombrero, or the influence they have on referees, there is no hiding the fact that they are a high quality, professional team.
Nobody likes accepting defeat or saying a loss is good enough. However, Parra took on the benchmark team and they know that if they work hard, and improve key areas, the challenge of beating the Tri-colours is not impossible. After last Saturday night, I’m convinced that it can be done. It won’t be easy, but a win is closer than it has been in recent seasons.
Think about how much Parra’s marker defence, goal line defence, kicking game and composure in attack has improved since this time last year. I’m of no doubt that such improvement will continue. After the last three weeks the team has proven they are willing to dig in and play hard. The talent is there and now they have seen how high the bar is to win the title.
Think about Oregon, Reed, Maika and Dylan and what valuable experience they gained playing at such high intensity against such a full-strength, champion team. Each had some very good and not so good moments, but came out of the game with much more upside. Importantly each player demonstrated the desire, will, ability and commitment needed to improve.
The experience will be particularly important for Oregon. Big Oggy looked a bit overawed early in his stint, but the longer he stayed on the field, the better he performed.
Consider these numbers: 543 – 293. Those numbers represent the total NRL games played by the Roosters and Eels spines respectively.
Throw in these numbers: 8-0. This represents the total grand final appearances by the Roosters spine up against the Parra spine.
I could continue rattling off the disparity in finals and origin experience. It would all look the same. Few Eels can list big stage matches on their resumes, so a hyped, top of the table game was a crucial experience. Parra played the best at their best and almost got them. The bar is high, and though the Blue and Golds still have a way to go before they can jump it, I finally believe, not just hope, that we can.
Therefore, there’s no celebration of the defeat but rather a celebration of the opportunity that Parra gave themselves. There’s enormous learning to be taken from this game and the recent past has shown this team is very capable of learning and making improvement.
I’ll declare that the only thing Parra lost in this game was the scoreboard. It may seem like a strange take, but given that people learn best from their mistakes, those crucial Parra errors could potentially be their most influential moments of this year.
Without getting too far ahead of myself, I’m looking forward to facing the Roosters at the pointy end of the season.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been confident of saying that.