Parramatta coach Brad Arthur admits next week’s mouth-watering match-up with Sydney Roosters will be the real test of their NRL premiership credentials.
The Eels are out to their best start to a season since 1986 after coming from behind to defeat local rivals Penrith 16-10 on Friday night.
It is the last time Parramatta won the trophy, however Arthur insists there is a long way to go before dreaming about breaking the league’s longest title drought.
Asked whether his ladder-leading Eels fans can start getting exciting about challenging for the crown, Arthur said: “(There’s) still 15 games to go.”
Having handed Penrith their first defeat of the season, the next challenge will be taking on the defending premiers, who have won two on the trot.
“Well, we’ll know how well we’re going next week, won’t we, with them,” Arthur said of the task of taking on the Roosters.
“Tonight was a challenge, we knew (Penrith) were a very good football team. It could’ve went either way.”
It is the start of a daunting two-week assignment that includes a face-off against last year’s grand finalists, Canberra, the following week.
That’s why it was imperative Parramatta kept their unbeaten record intact by storming back from 10-0 down with 20 minutes to go against the Panthers.
“It just shows if we hang in there, we can find a bit of momentum, it provides a bit of extra energy,” Arthur said.
The former Storm assistant was unhappy with his team’s opening hour against Penrith, but was impressed with their ability to steal the game in the clutch.
Centre Waqa Blake was the catalyst for the turnaround, producing an individual try before setting up a second in the next set.
“He turned the game. I was really happy for him,” Arthur said.
“Up against his old club, works extremely hard. It was a nice fend, nice try, gave us the touch more of energy and a bit of confidence on the back of it.
“I thought they out-muscled us in the first half, ran faster and harder than we did.
“I gave the boys a fair rocket at halftime before we went out about getting beat around some energy, effort areas. We just knew we had to stick at it.
“We’ve done the work in the pre-season and we finished strong.”