They are some of the famous words spoken by legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi.

If Lombardi were Australian and a rugby league coach, he'd have been proud of the effort from the Parramatta Eels in yesterday's clash against the Newcastle Knights.

Parramatta were far from perfect. They made 14 errors and conceded six penalties.

However, their Blue and Gold wall stood firm in the second half.

The Eels are one of the best second half sides in the competition. They have a differential of 144 points for and 44 points against across nine games. The vast majority of those points came against the Roosters and Raiders.

Against the Bulldogs, Titans, Broncos, Cowboys, Knights and Panthers, Parramatta has not conceded a point in the second half.

Even against the Roosters, the best attacking team in the competition, the Eels conceded only three tries. Eight of the Roosters points came from penalty goals such was the respect they were showing Parramatta's defence. 

In fact, while it was 13 vs 13, both sides scored two tries each.

For comparison, the Roosters scored four tries against the Melbourne Storm with both sides having a full complement on the field.

It's no secret this Eels side is one of the fittest in the competition. 

Barnstorming prop Junior Paulo is averaging 52 minutes per game with that number being lowered by Sunday's injury impacted performance. With that outlier removed, Junior averaged 55 minutes over the first eight rounds. For a player weighing 123kg in the middle of the field, those are big minutes and they've been all quality.

Front row partner Reagan Campbell-Gillard is averaging 53 minutes and stepped up to lead the pack when Paulo was unable to return on Sunday. His biggest performance this season was against the Raiders when he churned out 78 minutes from the 87 minute contest.

This side doesn't drop their heads when things don't go their way. The refereeing was diabolical on Sunday. The Eels could have felt aggrieved at any number of decisions, two of which prevented tries, and let it get to them. 

Time and again the Knights slammed into the Blue and Gold wall, time and again they were beaten back.

They'd spread it to the edges and golden jerseys would be there in numbers to back their mate up. It got to a point where the likes of Mitchell Pearce, Kurt Mann and Kalyn Ponga were just trying to kick their way through the line because nothing else was working. It very nearly bought them a try after Tex Hoy pounced on a loose grubber but his timing was out.

But the constant attempts at grubbers pointed to a frustration from the Knights playmakers who saw a 50-50 option as the only chance to break the line.

There was another saying by Lombardi; "Fatigue makes cowards of us all."

There were no cowards out there for Parramatta on Sunday.

Late in the match the Knights went to their left edge yet again, they didn't crack the Eels defence despite the Parramatta defenders clearly out on their feet. Newcastle turned the ball over and halfback Jai Field could be seen fighting off cramps behind the ruck, recovering and getting back into position.

The Eels were playing busted in this match. They showed signs of a side that had been through a tough four week period that had seen them play the defending premiers, 2019 grand finalists, a fit Manly and second placed Penrith before disposing of the Cowboys.

It was their first road trip since the restart of the season and their demolition of Brisbane.

Parramatta lost five-eighth Dylan Brown to a HIA for a period during the game, Clint Gutherson was clearly playing through a groin complaint and a heavily padded thigh, Junior Paulo managed only 30 minutes before being unable to continue.

If there was ever a representation of the ethos of this club at the moment, it was the performances of Gutherson and Nathan Brown.

Gutherson took the bull by the horns. He was in everything. His fullback positioning was exceptional, he supported around the ruck, he kicked in general play and when his side needed it he took a quick tap and set up Maika Sivo for the match winner.

Gutho finished the game with 19 runs, 178 metres, one try assist, two line break assists and six tackle breaks.

Nathan Brown, in his first game back from suspension, made up for lost time. He was instrumental in Parramatta's middle defence and provided plenty of punch running the ball in behind the ruck, often taking multiple carries per set.

Brown had stats of 28 runs, 266 metres, 102 post contact metres and 55 tackles at a 90 percent tackle effectiveness.

I also can't go past Reed Mahoney's exception dummy half performance.

In 80 minutes he managed 66 tackles at 94 percent effectiveness, one line break, one line break assist, one try assist and five kicks for 111 metres which took pressure off Field and Brown.

It appears as though Parramatta has turned a corner when it comes to mentality. Whether they lead by 20 or trail by four, they're always coming to get you. There is no rest, there is no reprieve.

"I firmly believe that any man's finest hour. The greatest fulfilment of anything he holds dear. Is when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lays exhausted on the field of battle. Victorious." - Vince Lombardi.

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  • Very cool read up mate, really enjoyed it.

    Our defence is something im proud to watch, i remember the roosters game, they got set after set after set at our line and couldn't crack it till only a loose ball hit the ground and Morris scored.

     

    I couldnt believe Gutho didn't pick up any Dally M points, I thought he was in our top 3 best.

     

    We certainly haven't reached our peak yet which I feel is a good thing. 

     

    • How did Gutho not get points on Sunday. I'd have had Gutho, Nathan Brown and Reed in the 3,2,1. Without Gutho we don't win that game. His last line defence and quick thinking both saved our ass and provided the match winning try.

      • It's a tough one Super. N Brown, RCG and Reed got the points, and I can't argue with any of those...

  • Lovely read mate.

  • I haven't seen angels team this mentally tough since 1986.

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