It was wonderful to be back in the stands watching our team take on our arch rival Manly. There was passion, banter and a “healthy animosity” around the stadium that was more than matched on the field.
Parra and Manly supporters love to hate each other (and their teams), and rugby league is always richer for such rivalry.
As for our Parramatta Eels team, they were far from perfect but competitions are not won in May.
What impressed me most was their willingness to dig in and stay in the fight. At 20-10, I was a little unsure as to how the game was going to play out. The last minute victory was amazing but I was equally impressed with our ability to be resilient, take the punches and wait for our opportunities.
One such player that demonstrates this growth in resilience and ability to stay in the fight is Mitch Moses.
From the stands, it is easy to see why he is a target for opposition fans. He is confident, outspoken and his position requires him to touch the ball a lot.
While his game, and that of all of the players, was not in any way perfect on the night, it was what he didn’t do that impressed me the most.
After returning from his sin bin he didn’t try miracle plays to make amends. He stayed focussed and stayed patient. He did his job, and given that his is arguably the most important one in our team, this was critical.
Moses trusted himself and the other players to get their job done and when he faced his moment to step up and make amends, he held his nerve.
In terrible conditions, he guided the ball through the post and everyone saw the out pouring of emotion as he did so.
I’m not sure that the Mitch Moses who came to us in 2017 could have played as Mitch played on Friday night.
Whilst acknowledging that there are a number of exceptionally talented half backs in our competition, I would not swap Mitch for any of them. Furthermore, everybody could see that kicking that goal meant as much to Mitch as it did to the crowd.
It’s very apparent that playing for Parra is something that Moses cares very deeply about. Winning is important but it is evident that our half back feels passionately about the jersey that he wears. Watching that in action means so much to me, and it would obviously resonate with many Eels fans.
To his credit, Mitch has forced me to view him in a different light over the years. In 2018 I debated with family and friends about who to keep, Moses or Norman. I frequently wanted to keep Norman as I did not think Moses could become patient and focussed enough to be our champion half. I would have been far from alone in questioning his credentials.
Moving forward, Mitch will undoubtedly continue to face criticism, warranted or otherwise. And time will tell whether he will be the halfback to guide our Eels to a much yearned for title.
But watching him stay calm and focussed, before letting out such emotion as that match winning goal sailed between the posts, made me reflect on how valuable he is to our team.
And it made attending in the cold and wet more than worthwhile.