Playing the Tigers at Bankwest Stadium never disappoints.
From the stands it’s amazing what a little bit of passion does to otherwise sensible supporters. Looking around at the reaction from the visiting Wests fans in the various bays to everything Mitch Moses does, even from some of my extended family members who are Tigers supporters, is hilarious.
The thing that makes me laugh is the more they boo and criticise him, the better he plays. Mitch Moses was always going to score a try on Sunday and he was always going to play with high energy. I hope they boo him every single game he plays.
I was told by some very passionate Tigers supporters from my extended family that they would rather lose than make the finals and not win it. Imagine that mentality.
On a more serious note, I thought our team played with much more energy and got back to playing our style. We looked willing to keep field position and possession and back our ability to wear out the opposition and get them in the back end of the game.
Most pleasingly, from behind the posts, I saw something that I have not seen for weeks and that was our forwards, led by Nathan Brown attacking the Tigers back behind the ruck. I thought it was Nathan Browns’ best game in weeks.
The forwards made ground and kept the Tigers honest around the ruck which opened space out wide. We still need to keep our foot on the throat when we are dominating but despite what the newspaper desperately tried to create as a story our playmakers stayed calm, did not step outside their role and played with pace and composure, something that is not always guaranteed from our young spine.
An experience before Sunday’s game reminded me of something very important. My family attends all home games and most away games in Sydney, but not everyone is that fortunate. Each game should be fun and should be an exciting experience.
We went to Parra Leagues Club for lunch before the game and started talking to a young family attending a Parra game at Bankwest for the first time. The kids had on their new jerseys. They had driven down from Cobar. The young kids were so excited to watch the entire team, especially Maika, Gutho and Moses play live for the first time, and the parents hoped that Bankwest was as good in person as it looked on TV.
As the game progressed I could not help but think about this family and hoped the day was everything they had wished for. Clubs and the NRL must never forget that supporters pay money each and every week to attend games. It should be foremost in the minds of power brokers when they decide upon the next crackdown (whatever it may be) and in doing so create game day experiences that are less than entertaining and at times unfair contests.
So we move to this week to face the Bulldogs.
I know that when Parra plays the Tigers and Panthers the media tries to talk up this rivalry but for my family the Bulldogs and Manly are our fiercest rivals.
This past round the Bulldogs showed again that they will always turn up and have a dig. History shows that the ladder position for these two teams never really plays a role. There will be passion on and off the field.
It will be interesting to see how we go without Maika. I have to be honest. After watching Reserve Grade at the ground on Sunday I was not filled with confidence about a Fergo return. I was disappointed when he decided to argue with the touch judge rather than turning and chasing an opposition break that he was responsible for creating
Nonetheless, as always I will let the coaches do their job and I will do mine; that is, I will enjoy the rivalry with the Bulldogs. I’ll cheer on our Eels and do my part to make the atmosphere wonderful, just in case there’s another young family attending the stadium for the first time.
Just like the one that I met last Sunday.