It was a Statement Win, against all odds.
After being written off by most of the rugby league world, the injury-hit Eels' upset the high-flying, competition leaders Souths. Bashing the competition favourites and leaders, 36-16. Dominating. Most expected it to be the other way around.
It also didn't go to the Indigenous script. It was a day that was meant to be all about Souths, Latrell, Cody and their wealthy, Indigenous tribe. Souths were competition favourites; meant to be able to beat anyone on any day they wanted. The Eels were meant to be a speedhump.
So, are the Eels really back?
Is this a watershed moment in our season where things change, much like R23 last year (ironically after our heavy 0-26 R22 loss against the Rabbits)?
Perhaps. Who knows for sure? At least, this week, the Eels were on. They were one. The 2023 version showed what they are capable of. They played for each other. They played with courage. Skill. Passion. All the effort areas were there.
The Cowboys seemed to be back, too. Three weeks ago. In R10 (above) shut the Roosters out 20-6 (R10) at Suncorp in an epic defensive display and then thumped St George 42-22 (R11) at Townsville.
Then yesterday, R12, they hit rock bottom (above). Completely torn to shreds, by the then-last placed Tigers (who were 17th on 6 points before then) in a record 66-18 loss.
The Best And Worst Of Times
Sixty-six is the most points the Cowboys have ever conceded. Their worst. And many, as well as them, thought their defensive steel and resilience was back.
At least that game at Leichardt went to script (above).
In contrast, the Eels' win over Souths this week is the biggest outside Parramatta in 27 years (since our 38-10 win R5, 1996).
It's all a lesson for us as well. Beware false dawns, and being overconfident. Stick to the process. No shortcuts. Be mentally and emotionally there. All hands on deck.
Townsend: I didn't see that coming
Cowboys captain Chad Townsend summed it up in the post-match pressor.
“(After) the last two weeks, I thought we’d played some of our best footy of the season and heading in to this week full of confidence."
“Collectively we just weren’t on tonight ... I didn’t see that coming."
And there's a lot riding on this week's game. Both teams are on 10 points. Though the Eels are well ahead on points differential (+44 v -82), whoever wins will leapfrog the other by 2 points and put another nail in the other's coffin.
We're already hot favourites at $1.39 to $3.00 before teams are listed in a few days.
Being back at Parramatta Stadium should help.
Back at Parra: Once in 7 years
Since 2016, over the last 7 years (12 games) we've only met the Cowboys at Parramatta once; it's just the way things panned out. There were also Covid protocols. We played them at Townsville five times, in Darwin three times, Gold Coast CBUS once, and at ANZ Stadium twice). Last time we met them at Commbank we slaughtered them 42-4 (R8, 2020).
Beware. If the wounded and embarrassed Cowboys bounce back (like they have many times over the last two years) we know what they're capable of. Remember, our 35-4 loss to them at TIO (above), and just winning in Townsville 24-20 against a very committed Cowboys' team.
Additionally, we have only won back-to-back games once this year to date. And like the Cowboys have been patchy, finding ways to lose more often than not.
Although realistically, the Eels won't be able to maintain the mindset and rage we saw this week against the Rabbits week in, week out, over the next 15 rounds, we have to do it regularly enough to make a fist of this year. Thus, probably doing it for at least 7-8 weeks of the next 12 games. Getting to 30 points (12 wins, 12 losses) might be enough to get us into the eight, especially if we maintain our healthy differential.
That's the challenge the Eels' face, should they choose to accept it (cue Mission Impossible theme song in a phone booth).
There's a lot riding on this game.
We need to make the week's statement win count for something.
Dangerous game for us,but I got a sneaking suspicion if we turn up with the same sought of physicality behind the Moses kicking game we can end the no doubted hurt pride the Cows will bring to this game early.Our physicality in the fowards and our back 5 has been improving so I'm hoping to see more of the same.4 point game this we get a W here it'll most probably move us into or very close to the top 8.
I'm on board Hoe.....given up trying to pick winners, but i know who I will be supporting, that never changes......I will be in Bali for this one Phil.....cold snap in Brisbane, Karens home from hospital.