Eels have proof they can challenge for NRL

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Brad Arthur had started this season claiming Parramatta players finally believed they could beat any team to win this year's premiership.

On Friday night, his Eels proved it.

Trounced by North Queensland just six days earlier in searing heat, Parramatta pulled off one of the greatest wins of Arthur's tenure as coach with a 22-20 victory over Penrith.

Arthur labelled it the proudest moment of his nine years at the club immediately afterwards, with the Eels down on troops but high on spirit.

But more than anything, it showed that Parramatta are ready to ensure the 2022 premiership is no two-horse race.

In the past two years, only one team has been Melbourne in Melbourne. And only one team has beaten Penrith in Penrith since 2019.

The answer to both those questions is Parramatta.

Those wins also mark Melbourne and Penrith's only losses this year, proving the Eels can mix it with the big guns after falling out of the finals in the second week for the past three years.

"Can is the word," Arthur said.

"We have to make sure we're doing that every week. It's only round nine, a tough opposition (in the Sydney Roosters awaits) next week.

"We're not an elite team at the moment. We have shown we can be.

"Because elite teams do it every week. We can't take it for granted. We can compete with the best of them, but we have to do it every week."

Arthur is also seeing a more mature team.

After being heavily bagged following their loss to the Cowboys in Darwin, the Eels showed no lingering effects from that thumping, nor from the short turnaround, nor even from the spotlight that came from it.

Likewise, Arthur was impressed by the way his side brushed off Taylan May's controversial try just before halftime on Friday night, after Viliame Kikau had clearly knocked on in the lead up.

"We come out and there was no chat about that," Arthur said.

"Maybe in the past a few years ago we would have maybe been stewing on that decision.

"Worrying about it wasn't going to help us at the time. We knew it was a mistake, but we made plenty tonight too.

"I think that (resilience) is better in the team this year."

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