Eels won't back down from high-risk game - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels won't back down from high-risk game

By Steve Jancetic 30/09/2009 05:34:06 PM Comments (0)

The stakes couldn't be any higher, but Parramatta have vowed to let it ride as they stick with their high-risk style for Sunday's NRL grand final against Melbourne.

The Eels have become the entertainers of the NRL, with their ability to keep the ball alive plus a sprinkling of Jarryd Hayne magic conspiring to propel Parramatta all the way to the decider.

And living by the adage that if it ain't broke, don't fix it, the Eels will continue to chance their arm in a bid to upset the more methodical Storm.

"We've played three (finals) games now and shown that we can take it to the best of them - I don't see why one more game will be any different," utility Feleti Mateo said.

"One thing we haven't gone away from is playing footy - we can't stop playing footy otherwise that's when we go into our shell."

Winger Luke Burt, who played in the 2001 grand final that the Eels lost to Newcastle, said now was not the time to go changing game plans.

"We still need to offload and pass the ball like we have been - we play our best football in that style," Burt said.

"As long as there's no balls hitting the deck where Melbourne can really punish us and they're calculated offloads, we'll keep doing them.

"It's worked for us for the last 12 weeks, we've only lost one game, so it's not too much of a risk for us."

It wasn't always this good however, with Parramatta mired near the foot of the ladder midway through the season and their attack struggling to make an impact.

The move of Hayne to a roving role at fullback helped, but so too did a concentrated effort to be more expansive with the ball.

The decision has paid massive dividends.

In the 16 games to round 18, the Eels averaged just over 15 points per game, but since the start of their winning run against the Storm in round 19, Parramatta have scored an average of 27 points per game, an increase of two converted tries per match.

Their 17.5 offloads per game led the league by a whopping three offloads, and it nearly double the 9.9 that the Storm produced with their safety-first approach.

"Midway through the year we realised we had nothing to lose so we knew we had to go out and play football and whatever happened, happened," backrower Ben Smith said.

"A few of the balls that we were throwing out the back started coming off for us and that helped us grow in confidence as a team.

"Ando (coach Daniel Anderson) kept saying just go out and play your game, keep doing what's got you here, and the boys have the confidence to do able that."

The Eels had their toughest hitout of grand final week at Parramatta Stadium on Wednesday, though skipper Nathan Cayless and halfback Jeff Robson were both spectators.

Robson was rested as a precaution due to a niggling knee injury, but is a certain starter on Sunday.

Cayless will test his strained hamstring at the side's final training run on Saturday.

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