True grit: All-or-nothing Eels learning to win the tight ones

A month ago Parramatta were in the curious position of having both the widest average winning and losing margin in the NRL, but three close wins in their current four-game winning run points to a newfound grit and resolve.

After 18 rounds Parramatta's nine wins had come at an average margin of 17.4 points per win – better than the top attacking teams like the Roosters (17), Storm (15.9) and another hot and cold side in Newcastle (16.4).

Their eight losses came at a whopping average of 18.2 per game – more than the Bulldogs (18), who were running 15th at that stage, Wests Tigers (16.4) and the Dragons (15.6).

The struggling Titans were only going down by an average of 13 points per loss, despite having the most losses, which is just the ninth-most.

Adding the average winning and losing margin together yields a figure of 35.6 – easily the biggest of any team, with Wests Tigers next at 30.1. Despite plenty of big wins, the other top sides were all at the lowest end of the total with four of the top five sides at that point featuring four of the five lowest totals.

At that point the Eels were one of five clubs not to have featured in a golden point finish. Their two closest results were by six points (a loss to Penrith and a win over Canberra); having just two games decided by six points or under was easily the lowest of any club with the other 15 all having at least four 'close' finishes and nine clubs having six or more 'close' games.

In fact only four of the Eels' 17 games in that time were decided by fewer than 12 points as huge wins (51-6 against Wests Tigers in round six, 38-10 against Broncos in round 14, 36-16 against the Bulldogs in round two) were mingled with enormous losses (64-10 against Melbourne in Magic Round, 42-22 against the Sharks in round 13, 19-0 against the Raiders in round five).

The wild swings frequently happened in consecutive games too.

The Raiders' loss into the Tigers win was a 64-point turnaround. The Storm loss a week after beating the Dragons 32-18 was a 68-point turnaround. The Sharks loss into the Broncos win was a 48-point turnaround.

However, since the 36-24 loss to Manly in round 18 (and that arguably should have been a bigger margin had the Sea Eagles not clocked off in the final 20 and missed a few conversions) the Eels have been a different side.

They have won seven of eight since the Sharks debacle and the real turning point looks like the 22-16 win over Canberra in Darwin, their tightest win of the year to that point and a gritty showing to come back from 16-0 down.

The past month has seen them grab a couple of rare and important wins away from their Bankwest Stadium home fortress, record their closest win of the year (by two points against the Warriors) and three of their four closest results of the season.

Wins over the Warriors, Dragons and Knights all came despite the team arguably not being at its best in games they would likely have lost last year or even earlier this year.

It has brought their average winning margin down to 15.2, from the most to the fourth-most behind the Roosters (19.1), Knights (18.6) and Storm (16.8).

They still have the biggest average losing margin in the NRL but no doubt coach Brad Arthur would be happy for it to stay there if it means not adding to the sample size.