While the Eels now slip away from the Top 4 depending on various results in this weekends NRL; the style and commitment of Parramatta would be keeping Hagan quietly confident.
After a lethargic Eels were beaten last week by the Sharks; they turned up for the Storm game full of energy and showed an aggressive style that was yet to be seen by them in NRL 2007. The aggression shown by the Eels saw them lose a penalty count by a landslide, but the physical nature and in your face defence rattled Melbourne and kept the Eels in the game.
Playing at home the Storm enjoyed plenty of possession and more importantly field position; with the Storm having 4 sets back to back early in the game. The Eels withstood most of the raids; ending the game 2 tries a piece and having another disallowed after a bobbled put down by Grothe after good pressure from Storm half Cooper Cronk.
The Eels only had approximately 6 attacking sets that commenced from deep inside Storm territory. From 6 attacking sets they got over the try line 3 times. A worrying statistic for Melbourne as had the Eels been given more ball they almost certainly could have stolen the match.
The Eels continue to work on their right edge defence, with Eric Grothe a noted weak link at times – rushing out of the line in danger situations; however cover defence from Chad Robinson and good assistance and reads from Ben Smith were snuffing out the Melbourne sweeping attack plays.
The match had a real finals football feel and while Melbourne won the battle; Eels coach Michael Hagan will be happy with the Eels positioning to win the war in the next month of NRL.