Kent: We’re about to meet the real Parramatta
A new premiership takes shape this week, one out with the new and in with the old.
The Roosters are back at the top of the premiership betting and Melbourne are finding their groove, even if the ladder might still look a little unfamiliar - Parra still lead the competition, with Newcastle and Penrith a point behind.
For a time change was in the air.
There was a lot of uncertainty when the season resumed with new rules and a shortened run.
The Roosters, already 0-2, looked vulnerable. The new rules looked fit to suit Canberra's run-and-gun style.
Melbourne looked decidedly average under the new ruck interpretation and South Sydney were struggling to find the punch through the middle after the retirements of Sam Burgess and John Sutton and George Burgess's move overseas.
Class began to emerge last weekend.
The Roosters absorbed all Parramatta could throw at them and, trailing 10-8 with little more than 20 minutes left, kicked to get home 24-10.
Suddenly, for Parramatta fans, 1986 felt a whole lot further away. Joint premiership favourites a week ago, the Eels are now on the drift.
The question now, as we settle into the 2020 season, part two, is what holds true?
The Roosters' up-tempo attack is built around momentum. Once they have their opponents tripping backwards they then begin drifting with the ball as support players pour through the holes in defence.
Coach Trent Robinson called it a "player's choice" model.
It showed how well the Roosters had handled the COVID-19 shutdown.
They returned fast and fit and with a style, somewhat borrowed from the Raiders, few teams are equipped to handle.
While block plays are still necessary to create momentum from still sets there remains an over-reliance from some teams for block plays to be their point of difference in their attack that they begin to turn their attack into molasses.
It's cumbersome and slow and easy to predict.
But, like the competition itself, the good ones are transitioning.
And that is why the season is a long way from over yet.
There was a lot of good in Parramatta's defeat, for example.
After almost 60 minutes they had their noses in front of the Roosters, matching them across the park.
And their response to the defeat was equally as encouraging.
"They were too professional for us at the end," coach Brad Arthur said after the game.
Arthur's honest assumption could be seen not so much a concession as it was a challenge for his team.
In the dressing room Mitch Moses sat staring at the floor.
He was 40 miles from the usual millennial who shrugs off a loss with a few jokes with friends in the opposition and who, by the time they hit the dressing room, are wondering which nightclub will have the coldest beer.
The loss sat with Moses, a stone in his chest.
"We can go away …" Arthur said, before starting again, "… there were some big moments in the game that cost us and let us down."
The Eels take on the Raiders this Saturday and the performance of each will tell us more about both their credentials than what happened last week.
How will they respond?
Premierships are won through brilliance and toughness and grit and all those qualities that come in shovel loads in every Rocky movie ever made - but another constant is consistency.
Parramatta's professionalism, their attention to the details, is what is at stake for Arthur.
It was the difference between his Eels and the Roosters and what he demands most against Canberra.
The Raiders, briefly at the top of premiership betting, were poor against Newcastle, responded against Wests Tigers, and then once again failed to work out the riddle of Manly.
The Sea Eagles play a deliberately ugly style against Canberra, one effective enough to get them home in six of their past seven games.
The Raiders are known for getting ahead of themselves.
After reaching the preliminary final in 2016 they began poorly and failed to even make the finals in 2017, later admitting their slow start cost them.
So they began this season quickly but, leaving aside their Melbourne win, have responded slowly since the resumption.
It was something they admitted to after the Knights loss and thought they had resolved against the Tigers.
The Raiders could fall to seventh with a loss, Parramatta to fourth.
Plenty is at stake for both on Saturday.
Originally published as Kent: We're about to meet the real Parramatta