That was the number of spectators at tonights Semi Final clash between the Parramatta Eels and the Canterbury Bulldogs. The first time these two teams have met in a finals game in about ten years. And yes, I was there. What an atmosphere it was with probably a 70/30 favoured Eels following. This was the first footy final I have ever been to and I have not left disappointed. A close game for much of the game ensured I was always a roller coaster of emotions before a superb finish made sure I walked back to the car a happy man.
I was supposed to go with my cousin Robert but he was selected for representative cricket just a few days ago so was unable to go. First, good on ya Robert, you’re making the family proud mate. But it left me having to scramble to find someone to give the extra ticket I bought so I started calling around. Nevan was going to come with me if I couldn’t find someone in short notice. I got a hold of Riley, husband of one of Jenifer’s friends and made the drive up to Sydney. He’s a Dragons fan now but was a Bulldogs man once upon a time, I guess one of us would be guaranteed to leave smiling. He did tell me he wouldn’t lose too much sleep over the game, which is probably true, but we were up 19-6 at the time.
It was 12-6 Parramatta at half time but could have been a lot more or a lot worse. Parramatta had plenty of opportunities but were unable to really put them away, the Dogs always biting in defense when needed most. Personally I thought the Bulldogs backs looked good and was worried for much of the half that they would turn our missed opportunities around to benefit themselves.
The doggies actually scored first and early and what was ominous was the fact that their superstar Sonny Bill Williams was the one who offloaded in a tackle to lead to a try. He pulled up in the 15th minute though with a suspected broken arm and left the field, much to the chagrin of Bulldogs fans. The fact that he was off the field until the last 10 minutes was obviously not helpful to the dogs. One wonders how he was able to come back on with a confirmed fracture; the NRL needs to look into that.
13-6 up courtesy of a weird field goal from Brett Finch was the next score and remained that until well into the 2nd half before we finally put them away with two tries in the final five minutes. As I mentioned, it took a long time to put them away but we finally did and it was a final five minutes to savour. Great game, great atmosphere, great experience.
Full time: Parramatta 25 Canterbury 6