Parramatta Eels show their toughness with comeback win over Wests Tigers

OVER the last 12 months, the Eels have been defined by toughness. Last year, amid every type of controversy you can imagine, it was all they had.

On Monday they showed it again with their 12-point comeback win against the Tigers.

Sure, there have been bigger and better wins.

But when you’re staring into the abyss of five straight losses you take what you can get.

Brad Arthur admitted after the match he was more relieved than anything else.

“Still very patchy. Very patchy. We played some good football a lot of the time but our execution, final passes, nailing some of the big moments, we didn’t get right.

“But I thought it was a gutsy performance, the last period and we needed it. We needed it.”

Beating the Tigers doesn’t exactly propel you to the top of the charts but after a month of defeats that doesn’t seem to matter.

“I’m not going to lie the last four weeks have been pretty sad and disappointing” said makeshift five-eighth Brad Takairangi.

“Brad (Arthur) has done a really good job at keeping us tight and we’ve got a real lot of belief in our team.

“The fact that we’ve been trying so hard and not come away with a win, it’s been pretty heartbreaking.”

After Matt McIlwrick scampered over early in the second half it looked like the Eels would be a second notch on the belt for the reborn Tigers.

They weren’t lifeless, but there wasn’t any fire. They weren’t toothless but there certainly wasn’t any bite.

It took a special try to spark them, an effort that saw the ball swing from sideline to sideline and halfway back again before Brad Takairangi put a curling kick in for Kirisome Auva’a.

It was a try that typified the match — not crisp by any means, but good enough to count.

There is still much for the Eels to do.

The defensive resolve that has become the club’s most prized asset over the last 12 months is yet to return.

Parramatta are at their best when they can impose their will on the opposition through the oldest way known to football kind — hammering the opposition every damn time.

With ball in hand, Takairangi knows as well as you do that Corey Norman, despite all his talents, is still required to do too much.

“Normie’s carried a bit of the burden over the last four games and the workload, so it was my job to go out there and direct the boys around and help him out.

“I felt like I had to take a bit of pressure off Norms, he’s felt like the pressures been on him a lot, which it has been.

“When I’m in the halves I’m happy to do that and try to take the load off him.”

Eels press conference

But there are signs worth celebrating as well.

Clint Gutherson’s future position at the club is as mysterious as the decisions he’s made about his haircut, but he’s got a way of injecting himself into the game that makes him worth persisting with regardless of the number on his back.

“Gutho is a footballer. It doesn’t matter where we put him, he’ll just do his job and he’ll do his job to the best of his ability,” said Arthur.

Making resurrection puns around Easter is about as on the nose as it gets and it took much longer than three days, but after a month of misery Parramatta have finally shown some signs of life.

According to Takairangi, the toughness that the club knows they need to end their eight-season finals drought never left them, even if it’s been hard to see these last few weeks.

“It’s always been there and it starts from the top. Brad is massive on belief and it flows down to us.”

A win over the Tigers, no matter how hard fought, still isn’t something that will make the competition stand up and take notice.

The Eels are still looking up at the rest of the top eight.

But comebacks need to start somewhere.