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Stat Attack: can Parra's record-breakers snap Storm hoodoo?

The red-hot Eels ripped up the record books when they humbled the Broncos in week one of the Telstra Premiership finals series – and they'll need to make some more history to get past minor premiers Melbourne on Saturday night.

The Blue & Golds have been involved in the two most one-sided matches of the 2019 Telstra Premiership.

In round nine, they suffered the biggest loss of the regular season, a 64-10 belting at the hands of the Storm up at Suncorp Stadium for magic round.

That 54-point loss remained the biggest margin of the year until the Eels bettered it, this time on the right side of the ledger, with their 58-0 demolition of the Broncos at Bankwest Stadium in Sunday's elimination final.

That, perhaps poetically, sets up a rematch against the Storm in this Saturday's semi-final.

So how much can we read into either result heading into this weekend, and which Eels team will show up? Stats has crunched the numbers on that stunning victory at Bankwest Stadium on Sunday as well as some of the stats standing between the Eels and an unlikely preliminary final berth.

Historic win

Last Sunday's 58-0 demolition was the biggest ever win by the Eels over Brisbane and the Broncos' biggest ever loss against any side. It was also the biggest ever team score and biggest ever margin of victory in any first-grade rugby league final going back to 1908.

But in terms of the sheer in-game dominance, Stats has also uncovered some other remarkable figures. In terms of the possession rate and run metres, the proportion of Parramatta's dominance came in at No.1 for any NRL game this year.

Storm v Eels - Semi-Final

The possession tally finished 65% to 35% in the Eels' favour. In the 195 NRL games this season prior to Sunday, the next biggest disparity was in Manly's win over Wests Tigers in round 22 when they held 64% to 36%.

It's been six years since a team so dominated the Steeden in an NRL game, when North Queensland dismantled Wests Tigers in Townsville 12-tries-to-one with a 64-6 win in round 22 of 2014 with 67% of the ball.

The difference in tackles made last Sunday was 149 as the Broncos were forced into 352 tackles compared to just 203 for the Eels. Only that Manly-Tigers game produced a bigger difference this year with Wests asked to make 170 tackles more than Manly in that game.

"From 1-17 everyone played their part and we should definitely be happy with the way we performed," forward Tepai Moeroa told "It's the first time this year we've all played as a team for 80 minutes. It's a good time to do that."

Eels run Broncos ragged

While possession and defensive numbers were weighted hugely towards the Eels it is the run metre figures that are really eye-catching.

Parramatta's 2106 metres was the second-best run metre tally by any team in a game this year, behind only Wests Tigers' recent thrashing of the Knights in which they racked up 2208 metres.

Brisbane's 812 meanwhile was easily the worst running tally in any game this year, with Manly's 980 metres in a big loss at home to Melbourne in round 24 the only previous time this year a team has failed to reach 1000 run metres in a game.

Needless to say the disparity in team run metres of 1294 is easily the biggest in any game this year. The biggest previous differential of 976 metres came against the Eels in their big Magic Round loss to the Storm. Sunday's figure trumps that one by a third.

Vunivalu and Sivo set for semi final face-off

The only time in the past six years a bigger difference was recorded was in the final round of last year's regular season when Souths monstered the luckless Tigers 51-10 at ANZ, outrunning them by 1328 metres (2190 to 862).

Defensive improvement

For all the chatter about the monster score racked up by the Eels it was the decision-making, intensity, line speed and contact in defence that set the tone.

It's been an area of huge improvement for Brad Arthur's men over the back end of the season; they are 6-2 since a poor loss at Lottoland in round 18 and even the two losses they conceded just 12 and 17 points.

From round 1-19 the Eels averaged 22.1 points per game conceded; from round 20 through week one of the finals that figure is just 10.7 per game.

"Semi-finals is all about defence. I say it all the time, defence wins games and defence won that game," centre Michael Jennings told

"To keep them to nil is unreal, the first time we've done that this year. We've been working really hard on our defence and we need to step it up another level this week."

Eels anticipate a 'dogfight' with the Storm

Parra no road warriors

The Eels finished the regular season with the equal-best home record of any side, with nine wins and three losses. However, they are the only team still left in the title race to finish with a losing away record (5-7).

That gets even worse when you narrow it down to their top-eight rivals. In away games against 2019 top-eight teams the Eels finished with no wins and five losses at an aggregate score of 178-72, or an average of 36-14. Even factoring in a 'home' win against the Raiders in Darwin doesn't paper over the cracks.

And Melbourne has not been a happy hunting ground for the Eels historically; they have six wins and 11 losses at all Melbourne grounds (from Docklands to Etihad to AAMI Park) since the Storm entered the competition in 1998.

The Eels have never beaten the Storm in a finals game in five attempts and are 0-3 in finals matches in Victoria, losing the 2006 1st v 8th qualifying final, the 2007 grand final qualifier, as well as that narrow 18-16 loss two years ago in the 1st v 4th qualifying final.

Smith: We're going the long way

Minor premiers don't usually fade away

Just once in NRL history have the minor premiers vanished from the title race in straight sets. That came under the old McIntyre system when the fast-finishing 2009 Eels snuck into eighth spot and upset minor premiers the Dragons, who then lost a tricky away game to Brisbane in a shock result that eventually spelled the end for McIntyre.

Prior to that, you have to go back to 1993 when minor premiers Canterbury went out in straight sets in a top-five finals series.

Other minor premiers to lose the first week of the finals include the 2014 and 2015 Roosters; both of those were against the team that finished fourth.

In 2014 they went down 19-18 to the Panthers in week one and in 2015 it was the Storm who beat them by two points in the qualifying final.

In both instances the Tricolours bounced back to beat the team that came fifth the following week at home – the exact task currently facing Melbourne.

In 2008 minor premiers Melbourne also lost in the opening week in to eighth-placed Warriors and beat fifth-finishing Brisbane a week later.

The fourth-placed Panthers knocked off minor premiers the Roosters in 2014.
The fourth-placed Panthers knocked off minor premiers the Roosters in 2014.

Before that you have to go back to 1998's 20-team comp and 10-team finals series when the minor premiers didn't even play the first week of the finals. That year Brisbane lost their first finals outing to fourth-placed Parramatta before beating third-finishing Storm a week later. 

The Eels know the way last Sunday played out will have little relevance when they run onto AAMI Park this Saturday.

"It's going to be a different game. The game we played on the weekend is not the game that's going to be played on Saturday night," Jennings said.

"It's going to be a grind for 80 or even 90 minutes. After losing last week they'll come our firing, they're too good of a team not to."

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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