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It?s Saturday afternoon and the rain has been coming down for most of the day. Cold and wet, it?s not a particularly inviting night but I hold my head up and head off to the stadium. No ordinary stadium mind you, I was off to the home of the Eels and unfortunately for the past two years the home of some very ordinary results. While generally confident of winning, the thought of facing up to the rampant competition leaders in the Sydney Roosters was not exactly my idea of a great Saturday night.
Arriving before kick off in the Premier League game I didn?t go straight in. I set about a task that has become increasingly more difficult as the weekends have passed ? giving out free tickets. Coupled with poor form and cold weather, the Parramatta clubs? attempts to build a supporters group on the North Hill had become increasingly difficult. This week was to prove no different, however as time drew close for kick off an influx of people did eventually eat up our supply of tickets.
Seated next to a rather confident crowd of Rooster supporters was obviously not going to be an easy night, especially if their brave boasts of a fifty nil flogging became more than just that. If the Eels could just hang in there and make a game of it I would walk away more than happy. More through bravado than confidence, I boldly predicted a win to those around me and stood and cheered when the players ran out on to the field.
For myself, the next eighty minutes were to be?
Shock closely followed by joy.
A well-placed bomb in the fourth minute sees Luke Burt cross out wide. Michael Witt?s conversion puts the Eels up 6-0.
Luke Burt benefits again from the same tactics used in the previous try and runs in again to score. Michael Witt pots another goal and the Eels are up 12 ? 0
Minichiello breaks the line and runs around to score behind the posts. Fitzgibbon converts to bring the Roosters back to 12-6. At least the Eels were on the board so the preceding boasts of a fifty-blot flogging could not come true.
Burt scores his hat trick and puts the Eels up by ten again off the back of the same well-worked move. Witt doesn?t convert but the crowd was now right into it.
Matt Petersen strolls in untouched down the right side again to put the Eels up 20-6. No conversion again but to be up so far after 30 minutes against the benchmark was too good to be true.
Halftime follows ten minutes later with no change to the score and as the team goes in to the sheds, myself and the other supporters around me lead the chorus of cheers. Doubt creeps in but a faint glimmer of hope remains that tonight is our night.
How else can you describe the next forty minutes? The Eels were defending as if their season depended on it? because it did. The Roosters, while dropping a lot of ball, were still relentless. You had to wonder if the Eels would stand up to the Roosters and not let them back into the game.
The only thought that filled my head as Stuart Webb crossed to bring the Roosters back into the game was that they were on the way back. Did I really think we could hold them out for so long?
Petersen runs in his second try of the night and salutes the crowd in the 79th minute. I?d probably known for about five minutes that the Eels were home because of the Roosters supporters who were leaving early. The Petersen try just sealed the result and sent myself and all the other supporters around me into rapture. In a season of disappointments, a win over the top ranked team does wonders, not only for the players but the fans as well.
As I left the Stadium to walk home I realised how exhausted I was. The roller coaster ride of emotions throughout the game had taken it out of me but I didn?t care how tired I was now feeling. The smile on my face remains today and my vocal chords are gradually returning to normal. Who knows, a few more wins and handing out tickets might be even easier in a few weeks ...
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