Parramatta has a rags to riches season - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Parramatta has a rags to riches season

By David Beniuk 24/09/2009 07:36:18 PM Comments (0)

Their first clash with the Bulldogs in 2009 dented their pride; in the second they gained valuable momentum but it's the third instalment that matters most for Parramatta on Friday night.

As news filtered through that injured five-eighth Daniel Mortimer (hip) had completed training on Thursday, the Eels were gearing up for a preliminary final that has already attracted ticket sales of nearly 71,000 at ANZ Stadium.

A win will take Parramatta to their first decider since 2001 while a Bulldogs victory launches them from wooden spooners to grand finalists in the space of a season.

And if their previous two clashes this season are any guide it promises to be an eventful encounter.

It was after the round six 48-18 thrashing at the hands of the Bulldogs at Parramatta Stadium that new Eels coach Daniel Anderson questioned his team's pride in the blue and gold jersey, and it stung.

And it was a comprehensive 27-8 round 20 victory at ANZ Stadium - the second in the Eels' amazing run of nine wins from 10 games - that backed up an upset 18-16 win over Melbourne a week earlier.

"It seems like a long time ago and we're a very different team from that game," Anderson said on Thursday of his round six spray.

"We have a different style, a different mentality and I think a different attitude.

"Obviously that's very satisfying and a great reward for the players, that they have turned it around."

By his own admission, it was quite a turnaround.

"I knew we had to do something remarkably different," Anderson said.

"Up until about round 19, we'd only won two games in a row so we had to do something quite remarkable, and we did do something quite remarkable.

"We're here now, it doesn't matter how we got here, we'll have a little crack on Friday night now."

Like the Wests Tigers in 2005, Anderson will be relying on his side's momentum, something he admits he has little control over.

"I guess you're just sort of corralling the edges, you're not really in control of the momentum that you carry," he said.

"You can enhance it and allow it to foster amongst the group in self-belief but I'm certainly not out in front of it, I think that I'm with it just guiding the players at the moment."

Bulldogs coach Kevin Moore also remembers this season's previous clashes, perhaps the second most clearly.

"I think back to that last game that we did play, that's not going to play a factor tomorrow night," Moore said on Thursday.

"I was a bit disappointed in our performance there, it was probably one of the few occasions this year where we didn't have a great preparation and we took that into the game."

Part of that preparation this time around will be a plan to contain Dally M medallist Jarryd Hayne, who has at times seemed to be unstoppable in the Eels' run.

"Everyone's aware of what he can do ... he's been in terrific form but he's not Superman," Moore said.

" ... It's about us as a team being really switched on."

Mortimer completed full training with the Eels on Thursday along with in-doubt team-mates Krisnan Inu (hamstring) and Jonathan Wright (ankle).

A decision will be made on the trio before kick-off on Friday night.

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