Cooper Cronk believes Eels second-rower Shaun Lane came up with the performance of his career to lead Parramatta to a stunning come-from-behind win over the Cowboys in the preliminary final.
The Eels led 12-6, before scores were locked at 12-all at halftime and they found themselves down 20-12 with 22 minutes to play before storming home for a gutsy 24-20 victory.
Lane finished with 129 metres from 15 runs, four tackle busts, four offloads, a linebreak assist, a try assist and 29 tackles with just one miss in a superhuman effort to win man-of-the-match.
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Cronk marvelled at Lane’s ability to create opportunities every time he touched the ball, including the match winning try assist for Maika Sivo in the 65th minute with a superb flick pass.
“The fact that Shaun Lane with his second half, every time he ran the football he created something,” Cronk said.
“Whether it was a quick play-the-ball or an offload. That flick out the back for Sivo, wow! I don’t think I have seen a better flick pass out the back for a try to win a game ever.
“It was an outstanding second half from Lane.”
Cronk believes something must have happened in the dressing sheds at halftime and bet his bottom dollar Lane was involved in inspiring and executing a comeback win for the ages.
“I would have loved to have been in the dressing room at halftime in the Parramatta sheds because someone or something was said to galvanise that group to do something they haven’t done often this season,” Cronk said.
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“Come form behind and turn it around with defensive resolve on the goal line.
“And if you want to pick out who showed that way it was Shaun Lane.
“His second half was the best 40 minutes of his career. It was so impactful.
“There was an intercept that got the Eels in a good position for RCG to score. He came up with a couple of offloads. One out the back to Brown and a try assist for Sivo.
“So he took it upon himself and the rest of the team followed.”
Michael Ennis was in awe of Lane’s skills with his flick pass, but was more impressed with the inspired defensive display from Lane and his teammates.
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“That flick pass from Shaun Lane, whose second half was absolutely phenomenal,” Ennis said.
“And the moment when their season and their opportunity to go to the grand final was on the line the scramble defence was amazing.”
Gorden Tallis believes Lane was instrumental in inspiring his teammates to win the big moments with the game in the balance.
“Shaun Lane was outstanding,” Tallis said.
“To have a back-rower who runs great lines. He was in everything in attack and then he came up with some huge defensive plays.
“There was some moments there, but in the end the side that wins, Parramatta owned more moments.”
Ennis believes Lane put his hand up for a Kangaroos jersey with his brilliant performance.
“He might have just played himself into a green and gold jersey up against Jeremiah Nanai who has had a fair season,” Ennis said.
“It was a showdown on that side of the field tonight and Shaun Lane came up with some huge moments.”