Parramatta Eels are still standing in the NRL premiership after a week when scrutiny of the club was dialled up to 10 following a heavy loss to Penrith.
The Eels bounced back to thrash the Canberra Raiders and, in doing so, made their first preliminary final since 2009.
Half-back Mitchell Moses returned to the side after a concussion in the first week which forced him to leave the field.
With Moses leading the Eels attack, the Raiders defence was torn apart allowing the Eels to score seven tries, winning the game 40-4.
Coach Brad Arthur said he was proud of his side with the way it responded to a leaked internal report that claimed ‘nepotism’ and favouritism in player and staff selections.
“I think we showed how it affected the group,” Arthur said.
“If someone has an agenda, it’s not going to break us. There is some personal interest, and whoever has the agenda, it’s not going to break this group.”
“We didn’t even talk about it as a group. It is something that we can’t control, and the boys just wanted to go out there and play for each other, and that’s what they did.”
Eels captain Clint Gutherson said the team’s performance made a mockery of the so-called internal report.
“We went out and played the footy we wanted to. We bounced back after a tough loss to Penrith.”
“As Brad said, not many things will break us as a group and to be able to put on a performance like that, it is very pleasing.”
In addition to Moses’ performance, Arthur said it was pleasing to see Waqa Blake bounce back after he was embarrassed under the high ball against the Panthers last week.
“He has done such a good job to get us to here in the first place. You don’t get rid of bloke on the back of one bad performance, we got to show a bit of loyalty.”
The Eels, arguably, have the easier road to the grand final, even thogh they have to travel north to meet the North Queensland Cowboys on home soil.
The sides have one win-apiece against each other in 2022 and the Cowboys have slight favouritism courtesy of having the second-best home record in the competition this season.
The Eels will be aiming to break their grand final drought, with the side last winning the premiership in 1986.
On a personal note, Moses will be playing against the Cowboys with more on the line, as he has a chance to join the million-dollar club due to a clause in his contract.
The clause will earn Moses $100,000 if he can lead Parramatta to a grand final win, which will boost his salary into the millions.
The Eels are sparing no expense to try to make the grand final with the club chartering a special flight to Townsville.
“We have nothing to lose, we have an opportunity next week and we are going to go after it.”