NRL Match Report: Eels vs Panthers

The Pirtek Parramatta Eels have warmed up for the 2013 NRL season with a 10-10 draw against the Penrith Panthers in their final trial match. The Eels put in a much improved performance after last week's 41-4 loss against Wests Tigers.


New NRL boss David Smith was among the small but vocal crowd as the two western Sydney rivals slugged it out in dour conditions at a rain-soaked Centrebet Stadium in an otherwise entertaining 80 minute contest.


Captaincy appears to agree with Jarryd Hayne. The star fullback scored the opening try of the match from a Chris Sandow kick, was heavily involved throughout and displayed his leadership qualities, vindicating Ricky Stuart's decision to hand him the role alongside Reni Maitua.


"We're taking small steps but it was a lot better effort than last week. Defensively, we spent a lot of time this week working in that department - and it really showed out there tonight," Hayne said.





The Eels went into halftime leading 10-6 after tries to Hayne and Cheyse Blair. Penrith's first try came against the run of play when Wes Naiqama swooped on a loose pass from Joesph Paulo in the 21st minute.


Frustrations boiled over a few times in the second half with Parramatta backrower Matt Ryan spending time in the sin-bin for repeated infringements around the play the ball, while Penrith enforcer Tim Grant and Eels club captain Tim Mannah were also involved in a couple of minor scuffles.


A late try in the corner by Dave Simmons off a Tom Humble kick in the dying stages allowed the Panthers to level the scores at 10-all, spoiling the Eels chances of recording their first pre-season victory.


The focus now turns to Parramatta's round one clash against the New Zealand Warriors on March 9 at Parramatta Stadium.


Parramatta 10 (Jarryd Hayne, Cheyse Blair tries; Chris Sandow one goal)

Penrith 10 (Wes Naiqama, David Simmons tries; Wes Naiqama one goal)