Parramatta's 2019 renaissance included a complete turnaround in their attacking prowess, piling on plenty of points after major woes in that department in 2018.
However a breakdown of their defensive numbers shows Brad Arthur's men were worse than every other team except the Titans when it came to defending their own line.
The club's defensive strike rate – the number of play-the-balls defending inside their own 20-metre zone that led to tries – was a massive 11.1 per cent. So of 567 plays that started with an opponent inside the Eels 20, there were 63 tries scored against them.
Only the Titans (14.9 per cent) were worse, with the other weakest defensive teams like the Dragons (10.7 per cent), Warriors (9.1 per cent) and Knights (9.9 per cent) all holding on far longer in their own end than the Eels.
There were several reasons Parra were able to paper over the cracks and win enough games to finish fifth. They had one of the healthiest average possession rates in the NRL at 50.6 per cent as well as being one of the best-behaved when it came to penalties. They were one of the best yardage teams and one of the best at attacking from long range.
But the defensive strike rate stat highlights the mountain the Eels need to climb to be considered one of the genuine title threats in 2020 with the Raiders (6.6 per cent), Roosters (7.0 per cent) and Sharks (7.6 per cent) all light years ahead when it came to defending their own line in 2019.