We can make a run: Mannah
They've lost four on the trot and languish in 13th position, but injured Eels skipper Tim Mannah has every confidence in his side making a mad dash to the finals.
Parramatta went toe-to-toe with the Rabbitohs for about an hour last Friday night before eventually succumbing to a 32-12 loss, leaving them one spot ahead of the struggling Newcastle Knights.
But Mannah, speaking ahead of the Eels-Bulldogs Bandage Bear Cup clash in Round 23, believed that his team-mates had found a sting in their defence against South Sydney that was a hallmark of their early season success.
"To be honest, I thought we re-discovered that [toughness] on Friday night. I thought defensively the forwards really aimed up against a very big Souths pack," Mannah said on Monday.
"The disappointing thing was we probably let the game slip away towards the end and the scoreline didn't reflect how much we were in the game.
"In terms of being physical and having that bit of sting back in our defence, I thought we gained a lot of that on Friday night. The challenge for us now is making sure we get the job done and not just come close enough and let the game slip away."
With five of their remaining seven games against teams lower than them on the ladder – including two against the Raiders – Parramatta have one of the easiest runs home in the competition.
After a trip to the Gold Coast on Saturday, the Eels are again on the road to Cronulla, then host three straight games against the Raiders, Bulldogs and Sea Eagles, before rounding out the season with back-to-back away games in Newcastle and Canberra.
Currently just two points out of eighth spot, Mannah said he had every belief in his side making a huge run into the finals.
"We've got a very good quality team when we're on our game. We've just got to go back to the little things we were doing a few weeks ago that was working for us and just knuckle back and get back to the basics a bit," he said.
"I've got no doubt we've got a side here that can really make a run in the next few weeks. It's just about getting back on track and it starts this week against the Gold Coast."
Strike centre Will Hopoate is considered to still be one week away from returning but Mannah said he's confident of a recovering in time from a shoulder injury for a game he said was important for their finals ambitions.
"We're not getting caught up in the rest of the year but I think it's a very big game for us this week," he said. "We've had a few losses on the trot now so for us, it's about getting back on track and that starts this week. It'll be a really important game for us to go up there and get a result."