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The biggest difference between the late-surging Eels of 2009 and the new and improved 2014 model is that this side knows what makes it good and has figured out how it should be playing, according to club co-captain Tim Mannah.

Speaking after his side's come-from-behind 22-12 win over heavyweights Manly at Pirtek Stadium – a result that keeps their 2014 season well and truly alive – Mannah said it was without doubt the best the team had played for a very long time."It's a completely different vibe [to 2009], we've got a whole new playing group," Mannah said.

"I think everyone struggled in '09 to put their finger on what made us good. I think this year we know what's made us good. We've got a brand of footy we can be proud of for once. It's more 'Parra' kind of footy, we play up-tempo, we play some footy, which is great.

"We've got a brand here we can be proud of."

He said the side may have suffered from an identity crisis in its recent years of struggle.

"I think the last few years, if we did have a brand of footy, it's not one we wanted to be associated with," he said.

"The last few years were pretty disappointing, it's nice now to know we've got a style of footy we can be proud of. The grit we showed out there today, it shows we're not just an attacking kind of team, we're a team that can work hard on defence as well.

"I think that's where [coach] Brad [Arthur] has been great, not only has he encouraged our attacking footy but he's also worked hard on creating an attitude in defence where we enjoy our defence as much as our attack. There's a good feeling out on the field when everyone's working hard in defence and it was definitely there tonight."

Mannah said while he wasn't keen to look back at their past three years in the doldrums, he was happy the side now seems better equipped to respond to adversity, noting the way heads did not drop after a controversial no-try ruling from the video ref on a Chris Sandow try at the start of the second half when the side was still down 12-0.

"Without looking too much in the past I think we probably wouldn't have responded that good a while ago. I think this season the most pleasing thing is we're a young team but the maturity has grown every single week.

"I don't like looking back too much but geez it's nice to be where we are right now [with a chance of playing finals footy just two weeks out].

"The last three seasons, the season's pretty much been over after 12 rounds. To be two games before the finals and to be in this position is something that excites me and I'm sure the other players are very excited by it."

He said while it may be an unpopular sentiment for players to "dare to dream", he happily admitted he had lofty goals for the current season.

"I dare to dream every day, whether we're coming last for two years or coming first in the comp. For me, I'm someone that always sets high standards for myself and as a team we set high standards for ourselves. I know people don't like to dare to dream but for me, I think it's important to have high goals."
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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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