Before their game against the Parramatta Eels, the talk of the town for the Melbourne Storm was the record.
As it stood, they sat level with 19 consecutive wins, a feat matched only by the 1975 Roosters side.
That is how it will stay as well after the Eels produced their best performance of the season to essentially upset the Storm.
You would not have predicted it, given the barren run the Eels had recently, with just one win in the last month prior to the clash.
And yet, despite being the underdog and written off by all, their players rallied, spurred each other on, and found a way to win.
The 22-10 victory for the Eels over the Storm was just the third time they have beaten the Storm twice in a regular season.
It was the Eels who started the brighter of the two sides with confidence, aggression, and ball control all working in their favour.
A swift play down the right-hand wing saw Mitch Moses pop a floater over to Blake Ferguson who strolled over the line to score.
The Storm would slowly find their way back into the contest, however, and would control the next 15-20 minutes, scoring two tries in the process.
The first was to Reimis Smith who was on the inside to collect a pass from Issac Lumelume after the fill-in winger made a break down the right.
Lumelume would then grab a try of his own when a simple shift to the right saw him with space of his own to score.
Down but not out, the Eels needed something, anything, for an added boost.
It came in the form of Haze Dunster on the left who finished off a swift and well-executed back-line play.
Moses, Dylan Brown, and Clint Gutherson, who threw the final pass, all touched the ball and Dunster did the rest to score.
As the second half began, the Eels would hit the lead courtesy of a penalty goal from Moses.
Not long after, they would extend the lead when Ferguson scored a second. Once again, some quick hands down the right saw the veteran winger finish acrobatically.
Then, to seal the win – in addition to their resolute defence throughout the contest – Joey Lussick started and finished the play to put the Eels up 22-10.
Lussick, spotting a gap down the short side, passed to Brown before Bryce Cartwright found Dunster out wide.
In open space, Dunster passed to Lussick back on the inside and he did enough to outpace Papenhuyzen and score.
In the end, it was a win that might be the jumpstart the Eels need, even if it was unexpected.
Eels coach Brad Arthur said it was his side’s intensity from the start of the week that gave him reason to believe a win was possible.
“That was a strong performance and I saw it right from the start of the week; we had a real intensity about what we did during the week and we had a real level of focus,” Arthur said.
“And then I saw it when we got in here tonight as well. I just knew they were on and I knew that we’d have a red-hot crack.
“I couldn’t guarantee we’d get the result, but I was very confident in the style of performance that we were going to put out.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy has not ruled out resting players but will make that call during the week ahead of the final round.
“Whatever we think is going to have us ready best for the first week, that’s what we’ll do. But we have some work to do,” Bellamy said.
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Bryce Cartwright (PAR)
2. Jahrome Hughes (MEL)
1. Mitch Moses (PAR)