Ladies Who League: Round 11
As we take a breath in bye week, our Ladies Who League blogger Mary Kaye looks back at Saturday's sell-out game at Parramatta's Pirtek Stadium and her impressions of the season so far. Remember you can find more of her writing at ladieswholeague.com.
I was so pleased to see a crowd over 18,000 at Parramatta on Saturday afternoon. Pirtek Stadium was a sea of blue and gold. I know how important our support is to our boys on the field and they certainly did not disappoint us on the weekend. Fortress Parramatta holds strong!
On Saturday, Parramatta were magic - there is simply no other way to put it. The clash between the Eels and the Dragons is what real football is about: two traditional rivals battling it out on a Saturday afternoon at a suburban ground.
I must admit - the first 20 minutes had me nervous. It looked like it was going to be a tussle - but then the Eels got going and once we started, there was no turning back.
At the beginning of the year you could forgive most Eels fans for looking ahead with apprehension. We have had precious little to celebrate for several years now, and most of us have clung onto the hope that the next year would be different.
But this year is different. If Parramatta continues to play the way we have been then finals football in September is looking more than just a chance.
As I have said before, we are a completely different team and after 11 rounds have more wins than we had the in the entire 2013 season. That is a remarkable turnaround by the team. However much of the success has to go the remarkable efforts thus of our astute coach Brad Arthur.
Stats don't always paint the whole picture, but the one that makes me smile every time is that in Season 2014, the Eels have scored the most tries in the competition - we sit at 45. This is so far from where we were last year. We now attack with purpose. We have players all over the field that can make an impact.
On the weekend Corey Norman starting running the ball and began to look very dangerous. Chrissy Sandow has been in tremendous form since he came back to top grade. Jarryd Hayne is back in blistering form and, buoyed by the consistency of men like Nathan Peats and Will Hopoate, we cause problems for teams all over the field.
We look like the Eels of 2009, who were creative and exciting to watch. We were the envy of every other fan and NRL club that year and our spark in attack almost won us a Premiership. It feels good to see this type of football again.
What is pleasing me most at the moment though is how much the boys appear to be enjoying their football. Their enthusiasm is infectious. Whenever points are scored it is followed by a mass team embrace, whoops of joy and post try celebrations which take me back to 2009 (although no one has topped Piggy's dance yet… the players should consider this a challenge). This enthusiasm is rubbing off on the fans too, who finally have something to cheer about again.
We go into the bye in the top 4 - a tremendous achievement. I know I'll be at ease this weekend knowing our position is secure … for the moment.
Before I sign off, a big congratulations to our co-captain Jarryd Hayne in his selection to play State of Origin. I'm sure I'm not the only Eels supporter waiting to see the impact Jarryd has when he puts on the number 1 sky blue jersey.