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Eels are winning but must lift

By Adrian Warren 24/08/2008 02:59:55 PM Comments (0)

Parramatta are convinced they must lift to continue their late push for a spot in the NRL finals place after an unconvincing win over the Bulldogs.

Starting the round two points outside the eight, Parramatta trailed 12-6 at halftime on Saturday night before piling on 20 unanswered points in the second period for a third straight victory.

They finish the regular season against two teams battling for a spot in the lower part of the eight - St George Illawarra and the New Zealand Warriors.

"Its going to be a real tough couple of weeks," said Parramatta winger Luke Burt, who contributed 14 points on the night.

"I think we are going to have to lift it up a peg the next couple of weeks and really get it going."

Inspirational Eels forward Nathan Hindmarsh, who topped the tackle count with 55, felt Parramatta were capable of performing better despite their recent run of victories.

"I think we've still got to lift a bit more," Hindmarsh said.

"We are on a bit of a roll, the enthusiasm is there and the excitement is there when you are winning.

"We are still not at our best, but we are doing enough to win games.

"With the Dragons next week, we've had a couple of close games with them already in the last couple of years, so we are expecting another tight one."

Parramatta coach Michael Hagan was convinced his team could make the eight, but acknowledged they needed to improve over the closing weeks.

"We know we've got work to do and we spoke after the game about the fact that the standards and the stakes increase again next week," Hagan said.

He turned cagey when asked how competitive his side would be against the top teams if they did make the finals.

"I think it's a matter of how we finish the year, where we can put ourselves, and take it from there," Hagan said.

"I don't think we are thinking too far down the track. We know the next fortnight will determine if we get there and where we finish.

"Once that is sorted out we can reassess after that."

Hagan said it was a very positive sign for the club that youngsters like five-eighth Kristopher Keating and centre Taulima Tautai were performing well.

Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes felt Parramatta had the potential to cause some upsets if they made the finals.

"They can score a lot of points and they've got a lot of ball runners in their side and Brett Finch is obviously an Origin halfback, they've got him steering them around," Folkes said.

Finch felt Parramatta were playing with a lot more confidence than a month ago.

"We are certainly playing a lot more for each other, a lot more unselfish play and people working off the footy for other people and our goal line defence has improved out of sight."

Hagan wasn't sure whether his leading try scorer Joel Reddy would recover in time from a hamstring injury for next week's game.

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