Bulldogs beware, an Eels ambush imminent

Curtis Woodward Roar Guru

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    Hayne has abandoned the Eels for the cash on the coast. (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Renee McKay)

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    It has been four long years since 75,000 people packed ANZ Stadium to watch the Parramatta Eels and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs go to war. On that night, the Eels would not be denied in a thrilling grand final qualifier.

    But it has been slim pickings for Parramatta since. The once mighty Eels have floundered to finishes of 12th, 14 and 16th over the past three seasons.

    While the Eels have struggled to find that winning feeling, the Bulldogs have gone from strength to strength under the strict regime of coach Des Hasler.

    Playing a wonderful brand of football, the Belmore club were as dangerous as anyone in 2012.

    With eventual Dally M Medallist Ben Barba thrilling crowds up and down the country and a monstrous ball playing forward pack rolling over the advantage line, Canterbury claimed the minor premiership.

    The Melbourne Storm would beat them in the decider, but the foundation was laid for an exciting future.

    That was until only a few weeks ago.

    On the eve of the 2013 National Rugby League season, Barba was stood down. That foundation isn’t gone, but the cracks are already showing.

    The Bulldogs failed to fire on Saturday night at Gosford and went down to the North Queensland Cowboys.

    They were good, but weren’t good enough. The Bulldogs are suddenly just another team.

    Meanwhile, a resounding 40-10 win over the New Zealand Warriors has Eels fans believing again.

    Just like that, with a click of the fingers, we have ourselves another Thursday night blockbuster at ANZ Stadium.

    That is the beauty of rugby league. Nothing is ever guaranteed in our game and everything can change faster than you can say ‘Hayne plane’.

    For the time being, the bragging rights are with the Eels. Canterbury are Barba-less and winless to start the year.

    Even if we are only one round down, Parramatta are undefeated and above their fierce rivals on the ladder.

    You can hear the Bulldogs fans fuming from here. After all, they’ve only played one game.

    But what happens if Parramatta down the Doggies on Thursday at Homebush?

    Pressure is the great equaliser in the NRL. For the Bulldogs, the pressure sits squarely on the shoulders of playmakers Kris Keating and Josh Reynolds. When the chips are down, you go to your halves.

    In the clutch, on the big stage, can Keating or Reynolds win their side a match?

    The Eels are basking in a demolition of the Warriors on Saturday afternoon. There is no pressure on them coming into this match. Jarryd Hayne and Chris Sandow were damn good but that doesn’t mean coach Ricky Stuart is expecting miracles just yet.

    If they go down to the Dogs, it’s only round two.

    But what if Parramatta win? Canterbury would go to 0-2 and the pressure continues to build.

    “I am happy for the players,” Stuart said after the victory on Saturday.

    “They have worked really hard over the summer and I am just happy because I saw some smiles on their faces again. They have been bashed around like a brown dog there for 18 months and it had been tough at this club for a long time.

    “There will be some tough days ahead, but we will go through those days together. But this is a good day and I am really happy for them. It also gives the fans something to smile about finally.”

    Canterbury have everything to prove and plenty to lose. Parramatta are just happy to be playing good football again.

    Beware the happy football team. The smiles may continue after round two for the Eels faithful.

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    The Crowd Says (18)

    • March 12th 2013 @ 9:38am
      Anna said | March 12th 2013 @ 9:38am | ! Report

      I love an overhyped Eels team. Even better now that Ricky is coach. . .premierships are not won in round 1..this is going to be fun 🙂

      • March 12th 2013 @ 11:16am
        JonD said | March 12th 2013 @ 11:16am | ! Report

        Agree! Round 1 should be called Round 0 because it is worth (almost) nothing.

    • Roar Guru

      March 12th 2013 @ 10:17am
      Mantis said | March 12th 2013 @ 10:17am | ! Report

      “That is the beauty of rugby league. Nothing is ever guaranteed in our game and everything can change faster than you can say ‘Hayne plane’.”

      Theres no upsets in any other sport?

    • March 12th 2013 @ 10:38am
      josh said | March 12th 2013 @ 10:38am | ! Report

      yes but the uncerainty of teams in the nrl is ridiculous if you watch nfl usually the same teams end up in the layoffs every year and in nrl you have manly, storm (except 2010) and the broncos but then youhave roosters, warrior, eels and propable bulldogs now jumping in and out of the top 8 every year and its not like they just miss it but miss it with large portions.

    • March 12th 2013 @ 10:38am
      max said | March 12th 2013 @ 10:38am | ! Report

      I reckon the Eels will go 2 up and build some more much-needed confidence. They Hayne Train will roll onto to Leichhardt Oval the following week and blow Benji’s boys off the park. Eels 3-0 and then they face the Roosters, cracking game.

      • March 12th 2013 @ 10:49am
        alex said | March 12th 2013 @ 10:49am | ! Report

        no i bet they’ll lose on thursday sandow and hayne will get a big head and stuff up, confidence is good but too much confidence turns you into benji marshall look what happened to him yesterday, it was painful to watch how bad that team was so i’m pretty sure they’ll beat the tigers

        • Roar Guru

          March 12th 2013 @ 10:08pm
          Curtis Woodward said | March 12th 2013 @ 10:08pm | ! Report

          Don’t think Ricky will allow big heads so early.

    • March 12th 2013 @ 11:34am
      Pete said | March 12th 2013 @ 11:34am | ! Report

      2013 the year of the EELS?

      Too soon to tell, but I am hopeful they wont be bottom feeders at the very least!

    • March 12th 2013 @ 12:22pm
      Tony Archers Maroon Underwear said | March 12th 2013 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

      The truth is the warriors were just awful utterly hopeless, I enjoyed the win no question but if we had been playing the Dogs of last year or Storm/Manly or Souths we would have been 20+ points down and under the hammer in the first twenty minutes. Parra couldn’t complete sets due to stupid penalties and handling errors.
      Our green outside backs whilst playing with great exuberance in attack are still looking fragile / unorganized in defense, something that Hasler could not have failed to notice. Were also looking a bit undersized in the middle the warriors started to exploit this but then inexplicably gave up, rolled over and died.
      Its a good way to start the year with some really positive signs shown by some key players like Matuia, Sandow and Hayne, but I’m not getting excited till we win a game where our opponents were actually trying to win as well.

      • Roar Guru

        March 12th 2013 @ 12:54pm
        The Barry said | March 12th 2013 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

        I’m with TAMU…the Warriors traditionally struggle away from home, their team looks poorer than in recent seasons and on top of that they played pretty badly.

        Dogs failed to control the ball and didn’t make anything of their limited chances in the second half. Deserved to be beaten by the Cowboys.

        I don’t think this game will match that 2009 decider.

        With Hayne and Sandow having big games, they’re probably not due again for another 4-5 weeks.

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