In 1997 the Eels remained in the ARL's competition and made the finals for the first time in 11 seasons by finishing third in the Australian Rugby League competition. Parramatta continued into the NRL era which began in 1998, surviving the reduction in teams at the end of the twentieth century. In The 1998 season Parramatta finished 4th and defeated North Sydney in the first week of the finals 25-12. The following week Parramatta traveled to Brisbane in the major semi final and won the match 15-10 earning the week off. In the 1998 preliminary final Parramatta were leading arch rivals Canterbury 18-2 with less than 10 minutes to play and then what can only be described as the greatest choke in Rugby League preliminary finals history occurred. Canterbury managed to fight their way back into the match and with a minute left on the scoreboard, winger Darryl Halligan kicked a conversion from out on the far touchline to send the game into extra time. Canterbury won in extra time 32-20. The loss was hard to take for Parramatta as they had beaten eventual premiers Brisbane twice during the season. In 1999, Parramatta led Melbourne 16-0 at halftime in the preliminary final only to lose 18-16 at full time. Melbourne went on to win the premiership the following week. In the 2000 NRL season, Parramatta finished 7th and won both their sudden death finals matches to take on Brisbane in the preliminary final. In a game that they were not expected to win, Parramatta came close but lost the match against a much stronger Brisbane side. This was their 3rd preliminary final loss in a row.