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Winning feeling: Eels, Roosters have history on their side

The Eels and Roosters may be massive underdogs heading into this weekend's semi-finals but they have one golden commodity in their favour and that's momentum.

Both were taken to wire in tense sudden-death clashes in week one before digging deep to keep their seasons alive.

The positive vibes will be coursing through the Roosters camp after their young superstar Sam Walker nailed a late field goal before they survived a desperate Titans raid to win 25-24.

After a season that could so easily have been derailed by injury, suspension and retirements, Trent Robinson's men keep finding a way. Belief will be sky-high.

The Eels sat fourth with a month to go but surrendered the double chance on the back of crushing defeats to Manly in round 22 and the Panthers in the final round, although they did end the Storm's 19-game winning run in some style in round 24.

Time to step up or step out

After resting a host of stars in round 25 they were back to full strength against the Knights and showed plenty of good signs in a 28-20 win which set up a rematch with the Panthers.

With Mitchell Moses' running game back on song and Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Junior Paulo leading the way up front, the Eels will give themselves every chance of toppling a Panthers team down on confidence after a shock loss to the Rabbitohs.

Wayne Bennett's team did a superb job of neutralising Nathan Cleary and their forwards dominated the Penrith pack, and that's the blueprint the blue and golds will take into battle on Saturday.

Why will your team make the grand final?

During the past 12 years, the momentum factor from week one of the finals has carried four teams all the way to a grand final - North Queensland in 2017, Bulldogs 2014, Roosters 2010 and Eels 2009.

The Cowboys' charge in 2017 was made even more remarkable by the fact their main man Johnathan Thurston was absent from round 14 onwards with a shoulder injury. They finished eighth after losing five of their last six matches.

After edging past fifth-placed Sharks 15-14 in an elimination final they stunned the fourth-placed Eels 24-16 in the semis and second-placed Roosters 29-16 in the preliminary final to progress to the big dance against Melbourne.

It was a similar giant-killing run that took Canterbury from seventh at the end of the 2014 regular season to a grand final showdown with Souths, courtesy of wins over Melbourne, Manly and the Panthers.

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Back in 2010, with Dally M winner Todd Carney at the peak of his powers, the Roosters finished sixth and knocked off third-placed Wests Tigers in week one of the play-offs and parlayed that into stunning takedowns of Penrith and the Titans to make it to the decider against the Dragons.

The previous year it had been the Eels, riding a tidal wave of emotion and Jarryd Hayne brilliance to climb from eighth all the way to the grand final.

Playing in enemy territory in the first week of the finals the Eels overcame all the odds to leave the Red V red-faced with a 25-12 triumph. Who can forget Hayne sealing the victory with a moment of magic that left six Dragons in his wake.

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The following week the Eels kept the second-placed Titans tryless in a dominant display at the SFS to set up a promoter's dream preliminary final against Canterbury at ANZ Stadium.

In front of a heaving crowd of 75,000, the Eels fought back from 12-6 down at the break to power past their great rivals and into the club's ninth grand final.

So if it's inspiration the Eels and Roosters are looking for to upset their more fancied semi-final rivals and keep their premiership dream alive, they have it in spades in the pages of their own recent history.

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For Jarryd Hayne read Mitchell Moses. For Todd Carney read Sam Walker.

For Fuifui Moimoi read Nathan Brown. For Anthony Minichiello read James Tedesco.

And for Jake Friend read ... Jake Friend. The Roosters skipper who was forced into retirement this year due to concussion concerns was there as a 20-year-old in 2010, tackling anything that moved in the early stages of a glittering career that would deliver three premierships.

What better way for the Roosters to honour their former captain's 264 games of service across 14 seasons than by getting on another magical finals roll and going one better than they did in 2010.

They've taken the first step, as have the Eels, and now the opportunity presents to build on the momentum by sending one of the competition heavyweights out in straight sets.


The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.

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