With many people writing them off after their recent failures in the last few years, I think it is safe to say that no one was expecting an avalanche of tries to be scored by the Eels, but that is what happened at Parramatta Stadium – as they overran the New Zealand Warriors, thrashing them 40-10.
The win puts last years wooden spooners in first place on points differential for the time being, as both Jarryd Hayne and Chris Sandow stepped up for the Eels in a big way – involved in just about all of the Eels tries.
The key for the Eels, is to have their two star players shining every week – something that Stuart emphasised.
“We need those two people to play well every week,” Stuart said.
“I said it to (assistant coach) Dean Pay… ‘if Chris Sandow and Jarryd Hayne play well today we’re going to be a big hope’.
“They’re two very important players…and they were both very, very good today.
“Jarryd didn’t get a lot of footy last year but Chrissy had a lot of negativity in his life last year and I’m just happy to see Chrissy enjoy his game of footy.
“I said when I first got here I want to put a smile back on Chrissy Sandow’s face again … I think tonight you saw that.”
Despite the win, Stuart is not about to get carried away and knows that the journey is only just beginning for the Eels, as he executes his long-term plan along with his staff and players.
“This time last year when that try was disallowed by Chrissy in the second half and they came back and scored off that next set of six, we would have folded,” Stuart said.
“… we put our foot on their throat.
“But we (only) started today. This is not the end and I promise you there’ll be some dark days. This will be a long, long journey.”
Perhaps an unsung hero of the game and a player that not many outside of the Eels would have heard of, was Mitchell Allgood – who looks to be fitter, bigger and more agile, putting in a performance that overshadowed some of his more experienced forwards.
For Warriors coach Matt Elliott, the less he dwells on the loss, the better – though it was made even more disheartening, with winger Manu Vatuvei injuring his ankle early on, with the diagnosis not yet known.
“If I got bogged down in one performance we’d be in a fair bit of strife, (but) I’m not going to ignore it that’s for sure,” Elliott said.
“I thought we got too easily distracted, almost like we were more concerned with the scoreboard than what was going on in front of us.
“None of those things are life-threatening.”
3. Chris Sandow
2. Jarryd Hayne
1. Mitch Allgood