Eels ready to defend way back to finals - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels ready to defend way back to finals

By Todd Balym 21/03/2009 01:16:52 PM Comments (0)

Parramatta boast some of the NRL's most exciting players but it will be a defensive blitz that the Eels will base their success around in 2009.

After being tagged the biggest underachievers of 2008 the Eels have worked incredibly hard in the off-season on increasing fitness levels to improve the woeful goal-line defence that cost them dearly last year.

The proof was evident on Friday night as Parramatta held out South Sydney for 75 minutes to claim a gritty 14-8 victory at ANZ Stadium.

"Our defence won us the game and that gives us a lot of confidence," said captain Nathan Cayless.

"It wins a lot of footy games your defence. It is something we have really worked hard on and it's something we're really committed to this year.

"It was very pleasing for the team and for our confidence the way we kept turning up for each other.

"Our offence wasn't the best but we kept turning up and kept competing which is good."

The victory followed a strong second-half fightback away to the Warriors last week when they came home from a 18-6 halftime deficit to only lose 26-18.

Tireless second-rower Nathan Hindmarsh said both performances showed just how fit the Eels were heading into 2009 under new coach Daniel Anderson.

"I think our fitness has made a big difference," said Hindmarsh.

"It gives us more confidence to know we can win those arm wrestle games."

Arm wrestle football hasn't been Parramatta's strength for a few seasons now.

While they've managed some close victories the Eels have struggled to put together 80 minutes of committed defence.

Now that they know they can hold strong when the opposition is pounding the line, Parramatta can turn their attention back to the attack which has fallen off the pace.

The Eels admit their ball-playing is off at the moment but they're still confident they can get the wins by simply relying on good defence and basic football.

"We will keep improving on our attack but it is a good base to start with our defence," said Cayless.

"We just wanted to simplify our game and try to work through the middle.

"Daniel (Anderson) was pretty honest with a lot of us about our game last weekend and we weren't really up to the standard in the forwards.

"We have to keep getting better ... keep working hard.

"We know we can defend because we have worked really hard on our conditioning in the pre-season.

"Whatever has happened in the past doesn't matter now. We've moved on. We're just looking to improve each week."

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