An emotional and injured Anthony Watmough has praised his Parramatta teammates for getting the team a crucial win in what was his 300th NRL game in the face of a massive injury toll.
The former Manly premiership-winner said it was fantastic to be able to create such a memory in a big milestone game at his new club.
"I don't think it really kicked in until yesterday when we got down here and it was all sort of coming around, the messages and things like that [about the 300th game]," Watmough told NRL.com after the game.
"I said to the boys, to do that here [at Parramatta], after spending so long at Manly and having a great career there, having to leave and come here and do that, build my first real memory here was pretty special."
Watmough is renowned for playing through injury over a long career, but on a night when fullback Reece Robinson (fractured cheek), hooker Nathan Peats (knee) and reserve hooker Kaysa Pritchard (pec) finished the match in the casualty ward, Watmough himself was disappointed to be taken off due to a shoulder injury that left his arm numb and unable to tackle effectively.
"Yeah, durability, the body gave out tonight!" Watmough laughed at his supposed tag as one of the game's iron men.
"It's just the game that we love playing and I've been lucky enough to play as many as I have. As long as the body is holding up and I'm continuing to play good footy then I'll continue to play. It's what we do. We love it. Whether you're playing pain free or playing with pain, you try and do your job properly.
"I'll be sweet [after the bye], my arm just sort of gave out and went limp and I was just a passenger there for a good 15 minutes of that second half and I thought you know what, it's getting a bit too close, I don't want to risk missing a tackle leading to a try so I thought better to get off.
"The doctor said look, we'll get it scanned on Wednesday when we get back and worry about it then. [It's the] shoulder, so I don't know what it is yet, we'll get it scanned on Wednesday and go from there."
Watmough conceded the bye had probably come at a good time for himself and his injury-ravaged team.
"You saw after 10 minutes we were two players down and by the end of the game we had no reserves and to finish the way we did was pretty special," he said.
"It goes to show what we've been building and what we've learned over the close losses we've had over the last few weeks and the boys really dug in and gutsed it out. That's what we're trying to build, it was really strong tonight from the boys."
With both halves Chris Sandow and Corey Norman spending time at fullback, and both hookers suffering injuries at different times and finishing the night off the field, Watmough said it got chaotic with players unsure who was even playing what position at times.
"We didn't know who was playing where or what was going on! But we knew if we ran hard and tackled hard we could get away with a victory and we did," he said.
"It's a credit to the young kids that have learned a tough lesson over the last six weeks of getting close but getting no cigar, and to get away with the two points is massive for them and for the club. For me personally it was massive and I couldn't thank the boys enough at the end of the game to get a good memory to win in my 300th game and to win the way we did was very, very special."
Young back-rower Tepai Moeroa charged over for what proved to be the match-winning try in the 76th minute but the jittery Eels still managed to keep the Storm in it with two late handling errors. Melbourne centre Mahe Fonua was narrowly denied an equalising try in the dying moments when the video ref confirmed he hadn't quite maintained control of the ball when attempting to score from dummy half.
In amongst it, the Eels came up with some cracking try-saving plays on their own line.
"A few weeks ago we would have missed them or we would have made the wrong decision," Watmough said of the last-ditch efforts.
"It's a credit to how hard we work on and off the field and what they do and how we protected one another.
"I was confident the whole time, I had all the faith in the boys. I know we work hard, we train hard, I knew if we could just get some ball we could score again, we hit big Teps short and luckily he went over and mate it was a great try."
With a bye next week the win helps earn the team four competition points in two weeks and Watmough hoped it would be the start of a run of results.
"We wanted to start our run a bit earlier in the year but we're building and it was great to get the victory . We were scrappy but we'll take the two points," he said.