The Dyldam Parramatta Eels take on the Sydney Roosters this Saturday night (15 August) at Allianz Stadium, and Blue and Gold forward David Gower says the Eels will need to be strong defensively and prepared to roll their sleeves up in the middle of the field when they take on the in form tricolours.
Reflecting on last week’s victory over the Panthers, Gower said that despite the ‘ugly, desperate’ performance, the team can take away positives from their defensive effort that saw them make near 100 more tackles in the opening 20 minutes.
“It was an ugly, desperate sort of win but we just found a way through our defence to win and lucky for us ‘Robbo’ found a lot of space up through the middle near the end and we were lucky enough to defend it out,” Gower said.
“Defensively, we have been a little bit off the last few weeks but we made it a big point that we needed to focus on our defence and make sure we kept turning up for each other and sticking to our defensive structures.”
“Up there in the tough conditions, especially after the start we had where we had made 100 more tackles early on in that game, just to keep turning up and turning them away repeat set after repeat set.” Gower added.
Gower knows that whilst the Eels are capable of scoring points, the Blue and Gold attacking ability stems from their strong defensive structures, something Head Coach Brad Arthur wants to see from his side.
“The attitude in defence was something Brad wanted us to work on and I think he is pretty happy with that defensive effort and that’s what got us the win.” Gower said.
“The boy’s defence is something we needed all year to be solid, our attack has always flowed relatively well week to week.”
“We know if we defend well, we attack well because our attack definitely stems from our defence.”
The challenge comes this week against the Roosters, who boast plenty of dangers and attacking potential, currently sitting second on the try scoring list in 2015, and Gower knows the Blue and Gold will need to arrive with the right attitude and defensive mindset to be in it at the 80th minute mark this weekend.
“We obviously want to win, we are competitive people and we are going to try and build on our performance. But they are a great side and in the top four for a reason,” Gower said of the tricolours.
“They won the comp two years ago, preliminary finalists last year. They have great players across the park so we just have to turn up with the right attitude, defensive mindset and hopefully the game plan Brad gives us to implement we can do that.
“If we can defend well, and are competitive for 80 minutes, we are confident we can be in there with a shot in the end.”
The Roosters will enter the clash full of confidence, having won their past eight games along with holding a strong record against the Blue and Gold, winning six of their past eight games however the Eels coming away 14-12 victors in their last clash (Round 6, 2014).
However Gower says the Blue and Gold will be ready for the challenge up front.
“Hargreaves is playing some pretty good footy, it will be good if his wife into labour for us.,” Gower joked.
“They have Origin players littered across their forward pack and internationals.”
“It is a massive job for us but that’s why you play the game; to play the best sides. They are definitely one of the better packs of the comp and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
The Eels will also have extra motivation to come away with the two points for Blue and Gold forward Isaac De Gois who will play his 200th NRL game.
“It is huge for any player to play 200 and for Goisy it is incredible,” Gower said.
“He has been to a few clubs, always trained hard and is humble and a great guy. We cant wait to get out there and try get the win for him on his 200th.”
And whilst the Eels sit 12th on the ladder with a mathematical chance to progress through to the finals, Gower was quick to shoot down talks of finals, rather focusing on the need to put in good performances on a weekly basis for the Blue and Gold fans.
“I think we have to stick to our structures and the offence that we know works for us. If we do our job in the middle, hopefully we can give our outside backs some chance to score our tries,” Gower said.
“For us, it’s about putting in good performances for our fans and ourselves and just improving every week.”
“It’s a bit cliché but that’s what we are aiming to do, we can’t look too far ahead, we just have to win.”
The Eels take on the Sydney Roosters on Saturday 15 August, kick off at 7:30pm.