One month ago, the Sydney Roosters were all over the Parramatta Eels in every sense. They defended better,
attacked better, ran the ball better, held onto the ball and just demolished a rather poor Eels side.
Last night, one month later, a new Eels side emerged – one that has won three games on the trot – as they showcased their resolute defence and produced perhaps one of the upsets of the season so far, defeating the Roosters 14-12 at Pirtek Stadium.
In a match that had everything – great line-breaks, crafty runs, fantastic vision, big hits and resolute defence from both sides – it was the Eels who hung on to win, producing a defensive performance that the players and fans can be proud of.
Both teams slogged it out but for the Roosters, it leaves them with some work to do, as they have now lost three games on the trot.
The last 15-20 minutes were nervous moments for Eels fans as the Roosters – who were trailing – threw everything at the Eels but could not crack the line.
The two key defensive moments came from the Eels. The first one saw Daniel Tupou race away before Eels halfback Chris Sandow pushed him over the sideline, and the second came after Jarryd Hayne miraculously stopped a rampant Sonny Bill Williams charging through with a try-saving tackle.
Not noted for his defensive efforts, it is an area that Hayne has improved in over the last couple of years and it is the little things that Hayne is doing that has Eels coach Brad Arthur impressed.
“The six games we’ve played he’s been making little efforts like that in those whole six games,” Arthur said after the game.
“Last week [against Brisbane] he came up with a couple of good chases, he got out of the in-goal (another freakish effort to defuse a certain 40/20 then somehow get back into the field of play from close to the dead ball line).
“He’s been coming up with some special big plays which probably a lot of people don’t notice because he’s not throwing a 20-metre cut-out pass or chipping for himself. He’s coming up with some real little one-per-center plays and it means a lot to him.”
Also praising Hayne was Eels co-captain Tim Mannah, who pointed out that it the ‘dirty little things’ Hayne does to save his side, often go unnoticed.
“Those little things that as a teammate you really appreciate the work he’s doing. But it’s not just him and that’s the pleasing thing is we’ve got 17 guys turning up on game day willing to do their job,” said Mannah.
For the man himself, he had no clue as to how he managed to hold up SBW but he knew straight away that he had done so and prevented the Kiwi from scoring.
“I don’t know how I did it, how I got in that position, he’s a huge human. As soon as the tackle was complete, I was extremely confident I held him up.
“Sonny thought he might have hit the line but the ref was in a good position and if you look at the replay I think they got it right.”
For the Roosters, the loss is their third on the trot and it is affecting coach Trent Robinson, who was agitated that his side missed a great opportunity to break their duck.
“It was a tough contest. Parramatta only made two mistakes in the game. Put it back in our court, we created a lot of opportunities but just didn’t ice any and didn’t execute well enough to win the game,” Robinson said.
“We’re playing some really tough footy. We’re coming up against some really good opposition. We’re just lacking enough steely edge to finish the game. We’re definitely not far away [from a win] but it hasnâ€™t been good enough for three weeks.
“We weren’t good enough to finish, quite simply.”
Roosters captain Anthony Minichiello put the loss down to dropped ball and made it rather blunt that they have to improve in that area.
“I suppose we didn’t handle our possession well enough when we got into good ball â€“ there was a lot of dropped ball,” Minichiello said.
“We just couldn’t put the pressure on with Parramatta there and we gave away some penalties as well. It’s an area we definitely need to fix. Our defence is going OK but when we get into good ball we’re just not executing to the best of our ability.”
3. Jarryd Hayne
2. Tim Mannah
1. Chris Sandow/Sam Moa