The Wests Tigers have won their second match in a row, defeating a disappointing Parramatta side 31-18 at Leichhardt Oval.
The Tigers were facing Parramatta at the historic suburban ground for the first time since 2004, when they won 33-12, and it appears they haven’t forgotten about that last match.
They were just so impressive and they continue to be since being humbled by Newcastle in the first round.
By contrast, it appears Parramatta’s first round victory over the Warriors was a false dawn, with the team losing their last two matches in contrasting circumstances.
Last week they couldn’t force their heads into the Bulldogs’ defence, and they never really looked like doing so against the Tigers, being held scoreless in the first half and thus going 80 minutes without scoring after last week’s second half.
The Tigers set the tone for the match, with Chris Lawrence scoring the team’s first try after just four minutes to put the Tigers ahead 6-0.
Lawrence was in again on the quarter-mark of the match, the Tigers went ahead 14-0 and the Eels’ defensive structures fell apart.
A try to Blake Ayshford ten minutes later saw the Tigers enter the half-time break ahead 18-0, as they picked up where they left off last week against the Panthers.
Parramatta were plain woeful in the first half, with two missed tackles preceding Lawrence’s first try and conceding 38 points in their last two hours of football.
If they wanted to get back into the match, they had to be the first to score in the second half, and whatever Ricky Stuart said to his players in the sheds at the break appeared to have an immediate effect, with Ryan Morgan going in after only three minutes gone in the second half.
But that would be as close as Parramatta would get for the match.
Two tries to Benji Marshall and Tim Moltzen in the ten minutes that ensued appeared to wrap up the game for the Tigers. But the Eels would not give up without a fight, again reducing the margin to 12 points through Vai Toutai and Jacob Loko in the space of two minutes, with ten minutes to play.
Suddenly, memories were being evoked of when the Eels almost beat the Tigers last year, when they scored 30 points in the last 13 minutes, before falling short.
But there was to be no miracle this time, as Jacob Miller slotted a field goal to give the match its final scoreline of 31-18 in favour of the Tigers.
It was an impressive performance overall from the Tigers. They looked anything but wooden spoon contenders, and they can continue to surprise.
Who knows who the Tigers’ next victims will be? Next week, they are away to Manly, who are still to play their match against the Gold Coast Titans.
Any optimism Parramatta fans had for the season after their first round victory over the Warriors have all but diminished. The magnitude of that victory had Eels fans excited for the season following a lean couple of years but now it’s back to the drawing board for the blue-and-golds as they try to shake out of a two-match losing streak next week.
Next week, they face up to the Sydney Roosters, who themselves are being touted for a big season this year.
One thing Parramatta fans should learn is they need to stick with the team and find patience in the toughest of times, and the results will come.
It has been proven with many teams in the past, and no doubt the Eels will follow suit.