Parramatta have pinned their new-found ability to scrap out a win when below their best on the drag-them-down training mentality of their NRL-deprived reserves.
The Eels’ capacity to win ugly is why they are third, having won four games by four points or less this year and losing just one.
That’s in stark contrast to last year, where the Eels’ best was light years from their worst.
In 2018 and 2019 combined they have won just one match by four or less, while the average margin in their games last year was 18.
Simply they were either very good and flogged their opponents or were extremely poor and were at the hands of a flogging.
But ahead of Friday’s clash with St George Illawarra it’s a different story with Parramatta one of the most consistent teams in the competition ready to grind out a win.
And five-eighth Dylan Brown said much of that is due to the club’s reserves, who had regularly turned training into a scrap without having the ability to play any football themselves on the weekend.
“They are preparing us for the worst and making us have that attitude where we have to fight until the death,” Brown said.
“It’s something we pride ourselves on. We’ve got the attitude of if we make an error we back each other up.”
Eels players are well aware this is something that has been lacking in previous seasons.
Parramatta’s four tight wins this year are their equal most in one season since 2000 and there are still seven rounds remaining in 2020.
Their win rate in the close games is also far superior to previous seasons.
Since the turn of the century, their overall record stands at 52 wins in 115 close games, too often not being able to scrap out a win when below their best.
“Sitting in the box (this year) I have felt comfortable we are in control of those games,” coach Brad Arthur said.
“That’s probably the biggest difference with where we are now compared to last year in those games where it could have gone either way.
“We have shown plenty of composure at the back-end of those games when we were under pressure to grind out a two-point win.”
Meanwhile the Eels have confirmed Ryan Matterson will make his return from a concussion in the Bankwest Stadium clash after two weeks out.
PARRAMATTA’S TIGHT GAME RECORD
2020: 4 wins, 1 loss
* Counts games decided by four points or less