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Parramatta Eels - 8th & Grand Finalists
Reasons: Jarryd Hayne: The media hype wasn't all for nothing. Hayne was a major part of the Eels revival from wooden spoon contenders to premiership contenders. His solo efforts starting from the first State of Origin match must've done something amazing to his confidence. He comes out of the season with a Dally M, a renewed reputation and a new harsh expectation. The No-Names: Before the season began, players such as Todd Lowrie, Daniel Mortimer, Jeff Robson and Joel Reddy made little or no impact in the first grade competition. At the end of it they have really become established top graders, with any of the mentioned names able to break through and set up an Eels victory in 2010. The Old Boys Club: Nathan Hindmarsh, Luke Burt and Nathan Cayless. The last three survivors of the 2001 Grand Final loss really put in for the 2009 campaign. It was spectacular to witness the boys at their best week in and week out. Fui Fui Moi Moi: What else is there to say, every week leading to the Grand Final there would be some sort of story on who Fui Fui was taking on this week. He finished the season dominating forwards from most teams, personally finishing 2009 with a better winning record than Ali!
Gains: Shane Shackleton (Second Row) Sydney Roosters Timana Tahu (Centre/Winger) NSW Waratahs Justin Poore (Prop) St George Illawarra Dragons
Losses: Brett Finch (Halfback) Melbourne Storm (mid-season) Josh Cordoba (Prop) Hull FC (mid-season) Kevin Kingston (Hooker) Penrith Panthers Todd Lowrie (Lock) Melbourne Storm Joe Galuvao (Prop) Manly Sea Eagles Broderick Wright (Prop) Cronulla Sharks Taulima Tautai (Wing) Cronulla Sharks Albert Kelly (Halfback) Cronulla Sharks
Best Win of the Year: Parramatta have really dug in various times throughout the season to grab a "sudden death" victory. The 27-8 win over Canterbury started an incredible form run, and that memorable 22-12 win over...Canterbury...finished it. During that run, it was the heroics of a few of their stars in a 26-18 win over the Wests Tigers late in the season that finally secured Parramatta of a finals berth and really put their name into the minds of their opposition.
Worst Loss of the Year: The last round of the competition saw the Eels lose to St George Illawarra 37-0. There were reports that Daniel Anderson didn't want to give too much away against the Dragons, so the Eels were not playing at their best. It didn't matter though in the end, but it was most certainly a sour night for Eels fans.
Statistics The Parramatta Eels beat every team in the competition except Manly and the Roosters. The seven match winning streak was the best from the club since 2006. Jarryd Hayne joined Ray Price and Peter Sterling as Eels who have won the Dally M Medal. He also became the second fullback after Michael Potter to win the award. Nathan Hindmarsh played his 260th first grade games for the Eels, just five games behind Brett Kenny's club record. The Eels will go into 2010 as premiership favourites, the first time since 2002.
2009 Headline "Hayne and Keating cleared for Grand Final"
Odds to win in 2010 $6.00 (odds courtesy of Betfair)
Where will they finish next year? They are favourites, plenty expecting them to top the ladder.