Parramatta realises rugby league is a simple game
Jarryd Hayne is cornered by two referees. (AAP Image/Action Photographics,Colin Whelan)
Parramatta trailed Cronulla 20 to 6 at half time. Hardly any of the Eels players were able to look Stephen Kearney in the eye as he addressed them. They’d made 107 more tackles than their opponents and looked spent, disappointed and frustrated.
Those feelings have become companions over the last two months. Losing has become a habit and Kearney was edging closer to the exit door.
If ad-lib football is their friend, it’s also their enemy. You can’t win games without scoring points, but you also lose if you keep giving the ball away.
It wasn’t a matter of having everyone on the same page early on, but more making sure everyone had the same book.
Passes were forced and dropped, cheap penalties were given away and field position surrendered.
Somehow, they turned it around in the second half, dominated possession and held Cronulla scoreless, winning 29 – 20. Keep the ball and you keep the momentum.
Fullback Jarryd Hayne provided the spark. The State of Origin representative wasn’t at the centre of everything, but more importantly on the end of everything good about their performance.
Halfback Chris Sandow seems to have learned how his cog makes the wheel turn. The former Rabbitohs playmaker attacked when it suited, but made sure Hayne had the ball with room to move and time to make something happen.
The trick now is repeating that second half performance week in and week out.
Kearney will get to reflect on the win over the bye week before his squad returns to play the Rabbitohs in round 15.
The next two months will still test the patience of the board despite last night’s win.
Parramatta takes on Manly, Canterbury, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Wests Tigers in what could be a horror run.
But if last night is any guide, who knows what to expect?
You can follow Luke Doherty on Twitter @Luke_Doherty and on Sky News Australia.