This article was first written and published for NRL.com.
As an Eels fan, I’m still trying to find the right words to describe what we witnessed at Bankwest Stadium on Sunday.
A record-breaking 58-0 win over the Broncos keeps the blue and gold dream alive for at least one more week.
There were so many highlight moments from the game, I’m struggling to pick out my favourite.
The first try to Michael Jennings where he juggled the ball in mid-air before planting it down, the brilliant individual effort from Mitchell Moses and the Dylan Brown double are just for starters.
Then there was that huge hit from Jennings on Jake Turpin and, of course, Manu Ma’u kicking a goal in his last game in front of the Parra faithful.
After being stuck at ANZ Stadium for the last couple of seasons, it feels so good to be back at our spiritual home in a state-of-the-art stadium. It’s the best atmosphere in the game.
When the “Sivo, Sivo, Sivo” chant went up I got goosebumps. This chant is everything that is good about rugby league and community and it is so special to see this young man from Fiji embraced by the Eels family.
Something has happened to this team over the course of the 2019 season, and especially over the last four weeks.
They have embraced who they are as a footy team, a team that plays exciting, attacking football with plenty of offloads and there is strike power all over the field.
Probably the biggest change to this team is their levels of self-belief, which have been amplified over the last couple of weeks. When you listen to the players speak it’s evident.
It’s a big ask, but this is a team that thinks that they can win a premiership. That’s infectious.
They are going to need this self-belief when they come up against the Storm at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
The Storm have only lost five games this entire season and none have been by a margin greater than four points.
What also worries me is that the Storm are a team that doesn’t lose two in a row. Craig Bellamy makes sure of that.
The last time the Eels played the Storm, Melbourne were also coming off the back of a loss, on that occasion to the Cronulla Sharks. The Storm made an example of the Eels the week after, destroying them 64-10.
The Eels will remember that game and will want to make sure that there is a very different result on Saturday. To do the near-impossible, the Eels will need to play in a similar way to the way they did on Sunday. Little to no mistakes, high completion rates and dominance in the middle third of the field.
No matter what happens this Saturday I am immensely proud of my club. This is a season I’ll remember.
No one expected us to win the premiership and few predicted that we would play finals footy.
The team has gone from wooden spooners in 2018, to fifth place. Home attendance has gone up, so has membership and with young players like Reed Mahoney, Dylan Brown and Marata Niukore coming through, the future looks bright.
Importantly our front office is in order too, we have stable governance and a new development commencing at Kellyville which will be the hub for all Parramatta Eels footy for the year ahead. My hope is that that includes women’s footy very soon.
I’ll be at a wedding on Saturday night, streaming the game under the table. If the fellow guests here an extra loud cheer a bit after 9.30pm it might not be for the best man’s speech.