Brad Arthur has praised his players for their sacrifices as the Eels shut down the outside noise around the club, with Mitchell Moses showing his maturity in a second half turnaround.
The Eels came back from 20-12 down, while Moses overcame a horror first half to silence his critics and lead Parramatta to within 80 minutes of ending their 36-year title drought.
“I’m really happy for the boys,” Arthur said post match.
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“They made a lot of sacrifices along the way. Mitchell Moses made a massive sacrifice for his teammates today.
“Over the last couple of days, he didn’t get to see the birth of his daughter. That’s huge and it just shows you . . . anyway you can see the last 10 minutes how we defended and just kept turning up for each other.
“The boys really wanted it. We have got a lot of players here that might be leaving to go to other clubs, but they have been a big part of what we have done.
“They cherish every last day that they have got with each other.”
Arthur revealed his players made a pact late in the season to turn up for each other every week and the team are now reaping the rewards as they sit on the verge of history.
“We wanted it and I have seen that in their eyes,” Arthur said.
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“They did it, not me. They got together and had some real honest conversations about turning up every week regardless of how they feel.
“That was the mentality we took when we got up here. I don’t care how you feel, just go up here and get the job done and that’s what we did.”
Michael Ennis commended the character of the Eels to put all the criticism to one side and focus on playing for each other, as they did it the hard way to earn a grand final berth.
“Brad Arthur has a great relationship with his players,” Ennis said.
“Only a fortnight ago they were tested when the club was brought into the headlines again with the situation that had gone on a number of weeks before that.
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“But the character the side has shown to galvanise back at home against the Raiders to win 40-4 against a team that had so much momentum and so much class.
“Then to have to do it the hard way and come to Townsville in 30 degree heat and in fairness, how they were in the game at halftime with the completion rate they had, I will never know.
“The bravery and the ticker that the Parramatta players showed tonight to keep fighting and keep hanging in there in those moments is what earns a grand final.
“Sides don’t roll over at this time of year. You have got to roll up the sleeves and win it the hard way and that will instil some character in them for next week.”
Gorden Tallis believes the Eels showed the reported fractures in the club are not in the playing group after an inspired comeback win.
“The pressure on Parramatta is all external,” Tallis said.
“It is not internal because you don’t have that second half performance and you don’t make only two mistakes in the second half if there is no belief in your systems and your teammates and wanting to work really hard for each other.
“They were out on their feet and they were hanging on by a shoestring at times.
“To dig deep and bite down on their mouthguard and they just kept turning up for each other and the tide started to turn slowly and when it did they were good enough to take their opportunities.”
Moses was one of several Eels players off their game in the first half, but Cooper Cronk believes he showed his maturity to redirect his focus and allow his teammates to win the Eels the game.
“He was one of the players that adjusted at halftime,” Cronk said.
“In the first half he looked like he was trying to win the game with every play.
“The two kicks out on the full he over-kicked them. In the second half he came out and said, I need to be more measured.
“He changed his temperament a little bit and made more high percentage plays and other players were able to make some plays.
“Sometimes the halfback when you are trying to influence the game too much it can actually go the other way.
“Credit to him after a big day, the biggest day in his personal life and in his footy life in a prelim final he got it together at halftime and came away with it.”
Ennis believes Moses is learning from experience that he doesn’t have to do it all himself to lead his side to victory.
“Age and experience gives you that perspective,” Ennis said.
“He has been through the ringer at times about can he get it done?
“He showed great maturity tonight to pull it back in the second half. He knew exactly what his team needed from him.
“He didn’t try to overplay his hand or come up with miraculous passes or chip and chases.
“It was more of a measured and mature Moses in the second half and that was enough.”