Parramatta players have declared they are happier to win ugly than look good losing, after getting the job done in a scrappy 8-0 Easter Monday win over Wests Tigers.
Prop Junior Paulo continued his strong start to the year by scoring the only try of the match but he downplayed his own efforts with ball in hand, preferring to credit his team for their scrambling defence in a match where they were at times down to one fit player on the bench.
"Getting a try is a bonus for me and lucky enough it was the match-winning one," Paulo told NRL.com after the game.
"One thing I've been working on is the effort areas and today was one of those tough wins and that got us over the line."
Paulo said the Eels' scramble defence saved them several times.
"That kept us in the game," he said.
"With the Tigers, they're unpredictable with their attack and they've got two outstanding halves so credit to them for throwing everything they had at us and credit to our boys for matching them.
"We lost a few [players to injury] there in the first 20 minutes but we bounced back and were able to put in a good second half performance but we dropped a lot of ball and so did they.
"We were happy to get away with an ugly win, we're happy to win ugly than lose pretty so we were just happy to get the two points."
It was a sentiment shared by his captain Kieran Foran – who threw the short pass that helped Paulo through the Tigers line to score.
"It's great for the belief when you're turning up for one another and all out there together and you're not playing at your best," Foran said.
"It was pretty ugly today – we gave the Tigers plenty of opportunity. We wanted to turn up, we wanted to try and hold them out and they're a very good attacking side. They throw plenty at you so it was pleasing the way we turned up and it instils belief each week that we do it."
The Eels are clearly riding on some improved belief in 2016 which was something noticed by both Foran and Paulo.
"[Attitude] is something that got us over the line today, playing tough footy, our effort is something we couldn't fault but credit to our boys for doing all the little things to keep Tigers scoreless," Paulo said.
"Our attack will come. A day like today; everyone's going to have days like that and lucky for us it's only our attack that we have to work on."
Fullback Michael Gordon was also pleased with another big defensive game but suggested the conditions may have had something to do with the ball handling problems for both sides on Monday.
"It was so humid, the ball was really greasy out there so we were probably guilty of trying to play too much footy instead of tucking it under the arm and running," Gordon said.
"We've got so many good runners in our team but we were guilty of passing too much. We got there in the end but we made it hard on ourselves.
"Our last three wins have all been on the back of defence and even against the Bulldogs and the Cowboys we were unlucky to let in one or two tries so it was pleasing to hold them to nil."
Gordon also had some praise for big Paulo's efforts in returning from a first half concussion check to score the match-winning try.
"I've been blown away by him, he's phenomenal, watching him in defence and attack, he's such a big man and he puts his body on the line and he's got some skill about him too," Gordon said.