Manly and Parramatta are traditional rivals since their clashes in the 70’s and 80’s and the grudge match was built up last night, with the rivals pitting their wits against each other.
In front of a passionate home crowd, it was the Eels who came away with the victory, as they continued their terrific home form in 2014.
It was not all smooth sailing, though, as Manly took the ascendancy early to dominate the first half and take a 12-0 lead into the second half.
The Eels had no answers in the first half for Manly’s attack, as the competition heavyweights showed why they are an elite side and a tough team to beat.
Additionally, Manly’s first-half defence kept the Eels at bay, who threw several different types of attack at the Sea Eagles to no avail.
The second half was a different story, as a vocal home crowd, a man-of-the-match performance by Issac De Gois and a monster 40/20 by Chris Sandow, changed the course of the game.
The Eels ran in 22 unanswered points scoring four tries, including one to winger Semi Radradra who now leads the try-scoring list on 19.
Eels co-captain Tim Mannah, a part of the Eels 2009 resurgence to the grand final, says the club now know how to play efficiently and praised his side for their second-half efforts.
“It’s a completely different vibe [to 2009], we’ve got a whole new playing group,” Mannah said.
“I think everyone struggled in ’09 to put their finger on what made us good. I think this year we know what’s made us good. We’ve got a brand of footy we can be proud of for once. It’s more ‘Parra’ kind of footy, we play up-tempo, we play some footy, which is great.
“We’ve got a brand here we can be proud of.”
On the game itself, fellow captain Jarryd Hayne admits that the first-half was a poor one and believes the side were left in awe at Manly’s stern defence.
“I think we got a bit of stage fright in the first half; we put plenty of pressure on them but we just couldn’t execute,” Hayne said.
“You see when we execute we were able to put points on them. I think that was the difference â€“ in the first half we didn’t execute our plays well enough, in the second half we did.”
The turning point was a no-try decision to Chris Sandow – one that had many scratching their heads – although Hayne believes that decision galvanised the team.
“I think we just came out [after the no-try] with a better attitude, with a better mind about executing,” Hayne said.
“That [attitude] was probably the biggest thing we spoke about at half time. There’s that rule about going behind the player but [decoy runner David Gower] didn’t impede anyone â€“ they made the call.”
Eels coach Brad Arthur pinpointed the fluidity of his side’s second-half – confidence.
“If you’re executing OK and get half a break or some sort of reward out of it and grow in confidence and they stick to it, that’s what happened in the first half,” said Arthur.
“We didn’t quite get the reward out of it then that’s what happened in the second half, they grow another leg and find another gear in terms of energy.”
Manly coach Geoff Toovey was left disappointed, labelling his side as complacent.
“Pretty disappointed. I thought the boys were doing it too easy in the first half, it probably could have been 18 or 20 points up,” Toovey said.
“We came out in the second half and played accordingly. Fifty-three per cent completions in the second half â€“ we just thought it was going to happen. A few things went Parramatta’s way and all of a sudden they’re back in the game.”
Knowing that the Eels would come out strong in the second half, Toovey did not expect that his side would be so flat.
“We played pretty well the first half, the scoreline could have been greater than it was but we came out in the second half, the first set where we just got a kick away, that was our attitude the whole second half. A couple of lucky things went their way and all of a sudden they’re back in the match.
“Their confidence rises, their enthusiasm rises and that’s the way it went.”