Be honest, you gave them no chance, did you not? You thought that the mountain was too high to climb? Well, if you were in that category, you would have seen that the impossible can become possible – with the Eels winning their first game of the season, against 2011 premiers the Manly Sea Eagles, at Parramatta Stadium last night.
With the odds against the Eels, they came out of the blocks, and jostled with Manly the entire game for the win – coming up with it at the end, on the back of great play from their key players.
It was the return of Jarryd Hayne that added some spark and enthusiasm to the Eels backline, after he was previously limited to just 10 minutes of game-time in three weeks, following his injury against the Warriors in Round 2.
For Manly, to compound matters following their third consecutive loss – the club will face a nervous wait on injuries to both Kieran Foran (hamstring) and Brett Stewart (ribs), with both facing 4 and 2 weeks on the sidelines respectively.
On the game itself, it was a see-sawing affair, despite the Eels being the better side for the majority of the game, Manly someone stuck around, before a late push from the Eels saw them win 29-20, to register their first win of the season.
The standout of the game, was Ben Roberts – who found his mojo, with some crafty runs on Manly’s left edge, wreaking havoc for the club, leading to not only line-breaks, but tries also.
With a lot of pressure on Kearney, given his meeting with Eels officials over the course of the week, this was the perfect response to a rather tumultuous week for the coach.
“It was obviously a bit of a relief given the last four weeks we’ve had,” Kearney said.
“I was just more pleased for the lads and their perseverance tonight.
“Over the last 12 months we’ve had trouble getting over that little hurdle.”
Although Jarryd Hayne’s knee is still not 100%, it is in good enough condition to play despite periods of some discomfort – a pain that Jarryd knows he has to put up with.
“It was tweaking here and there and the last run in the first half scared me a bit with the way I landed,” Hayne said.
“We always knew that I was going to play with a bit of pain but it was nothing as bad as last time.
“As a team we really raised to the next level tonight and it’s something that we’ve been lacking.”
With their first home game of the season coming up next week, Manly coach Geoff Toovey is confident that his side can get their season back on track with a win.
“We did enough to be in front with 20 to go and still capitulated form there,” Toovey said.
“We started the year on a high winning the first two games – it’s just unfortunate that at times during a match we lack that mental focus … we’ll get back there.”