The Eels are currently enjoying their best start to a season, statistically, in the club's three-quarters of a century in the premiership.
Their 8-1 record equals last year's best-ever start in terms of wins and losses through nine rounds but their points scored and differential are both the best in Eels history, according to NRL.com Stats.
Their 260 points scored in nine games at 28.9 per game and differential of +136 both beat anything in the club's history.
While the Panthers have rightly been getting plenty of focus for their historic and unprecedented start to 2021, which includes easily the best opening nine rounds defensively of any side in the NRL era and will be the subject of future NRL.com Stats pieces, it has overshadowed what has also been the best start in Eels history and underscores the current strong form of both western Sydney clubs.
The previous most points scored by a Parramatta side in the opening nine rounds was the unstoppable triple-premiership squad of the early 1980s that racked up 254 points in nine games. With 125 conceded and a +129 differential, that 1983 side – which won six and lost three of its opening nine games – held the previous record for best attack and differential of any Eels side through nine rounds.
The red-hot 2001 side that shattered point-scoring records does not figure prominently in these figures because of a slowish start that year before lighting up over the second half of the season.
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That team carried its form into early 2002 with 246 points scored and a +127 differential, which are each third best in club history.
The Eels' current record also compares favourably across other seasons in the NRL era; it is the equal 10th best (level with this year's Panthers) while the Storm's prolific point-scoring this year has them third best of the NRL era through nine rounds with only the 2002 and 2006 Knights ahead of them.
Some notable contributors to the Eels' start have been skipper Clint Gutherson, whose 14 try involvements are equal first in the NRL along with Cody Walker and Brett Morris, and bench weapon Bryce Cartwright.
Cartwright's ratio of "quality" touches (tries, line breaks and assists per touch) of 0.15 is equal fifth best of any player in the NRL, including three tries and three try assists in his five games, while equal with him in fifth is winger Maika Sivo with nine tries and 11 line breaks.
If anything the numbers serve to highlight how rare it is for any Parramatta side to start well; even the premiership and grand final teams have tended to start slowly and finish strong rather than being dominant all year.
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It also highlights just how potent Penrith have been through nine rounds; as we know defence wins premierships and Penrith's current miserly rate of just 6.7 points conceded per match has them head and shoulders above the rest. Melbourne's 12 and Parramatta's 13.8 are next best and still more than double that of Ivan Cleary's men.
Penrith's current +200 differential is also easily the best of any side through nine rounds in the NRL era (the most recent team to do better was the 1995 Sea Eagles who were +206 through nine rounds) while the 60 points conceded is also easily the best of the NRL era, beating the 2011 Dragons and 2013 Roosters who each conceded 86 through the first nine rounds.