In a much hyped game, the Eels faithful turned out in big numbers – as Parramatta Stadium sold old for the first time in some months.
But the well-prepared Roosters kept the crowd out of the match for most of the game, peppering the Eels from the opening with some good angle running and some dangerous kicks that had Hayne running everywhere behind the line.
The Sydney forwards were exceptional, led by the resurgent Jason Ryles – they had the Eels on the backfoot and from there, the magic of Carney had the Parramatta side guessing everytime he had the ball.
He would run, jink or kick – with things coming together for him on most occasions.
The Roosters had plenty of success attacking the Eels right side defence, providing Inu with plenty of work – and showing off the pace of Phil Graham and Kane Linett. Both outside backs combining beautifully for one try in particular – despite the strong efforts of Hayne to break down the play.
Parramatta had their chances, getting a try right on half time to narrow the gap to 12 points – but despite having a mountain of possession early in the second term – they couldn’t rack up points.
The Roosters defence was rushing all night, closing down the Eels early and wrapping up their trademark offloads – frustrating the life out of Parramatta and preventing any potential points.
The Eels needed some luck, or an error from the Roosters – they got neither.
With the game in the balance, a surging try from Joel Reddy which looked to be a benefit of the doubt chance at the very least was knocked back by the video referee – the result knocking the stuffing out of any potential Eels comeback.
With the Sydney side rarely missing their chances, they attacked at every opportunity and now find themselves in equal second position and assured of a finals birth for 2010.
It’s been a remarkable turnaround under astute coach Brian Smith, the veteran would already be quietly confident of his sides chances – the former Eels coach regularly cops a pasting in the media when things go bad – but you rarely hear anyone sing his praises when he is cruising along nicely.
Smith has survived so long in the game, because he is extremely good at what he does. He has taken this bumbling mess of a Roosters side from last to virtually first in the space of 12 months.
He’s given Carney the confidence and licence to roam that he needed, he has rebirthed the likes of Jason Ryles, who before joining the Roosters was long odds to ever play NRL again.
Ryles was always injured, rarely making decent meters and regularly whinging and moaning at referees. The former Dragon has not only rediscovered his early career form – but has cut the crap from his game and is an encouraging sight for all the Roosters forwards.
Sydney will garner plenty from this big win as the finals near, and the Eels will need to knuckle down once again to ensure they win the lions share of their remaining NRL games – to once again sneak into the NRL finals.