The Dyldam Parramatta Eels - rechristened the ‘Territory Eels’ for the night - have run out 60-14 winners against the Wests Tigers at Alice Springs’ ANZAC Oval.
It was a warm welcome for the adopted Eels, with temperatures hovering above 30 degrees for most of the match, and a crowd of 3,284 throwing its weight behind the Blue and Gold.
Head Coach Brad Arthur’s 23-man side put first points on the board through starting fullback Ken Sio, finding a gap on the right hand edge in the 5th minute to ground the ball and convert his own four-pointer.
Luke Kelly’s aggressive kicking game including a cross-field bomb for a try to winger Semi Radradra, while centre Ryan Morgan burrowed over early for his own four-pointer, and added a second when he snatched an Eels bomb from the Tigers’ defensive line just after halftime.
Chris Sandow also found form with the boot, giving his teammates a piggyback with a 40-20 late in the night, and offloading the ball through Kenny Edwards to send John Folau over for a try.
With Arthur shuffling his line-up through the four quarters, playmakers Luke Kelly, Ben Jones, Chris Sandow, Zach Dockar-Clay, Liam Foran and Toby Evans used their forwards to punch through the Tigers’ defence, resulting in points on the board for a barnstorming Manu Ma’u and a double to young gun Peni Terepo.
In the high temperatures, Arthur’s forward pack rotated heavily, giving Brenden Santi, Daniel Alvaro, Pauli Pauli and Lorenzo Ma’afu their first taste of playing in Blue and Gold alongside the Eels NRL squad.
Bulked up Taniela Lasalo and back-rower Kenny Edwards proved a handful for the opposition, while young centre John Folau held his own in defence in the Eels line.
Toby Evans scored a late try after a brilliant piece to attacking play from Ma’u and Dockar-Clay, bringing the total to 60 points.
Co-Captain Tim Mannah praised the performances from the new faces in the Eels squad.
"The trials are a great chance to give the young guys a chance of playing footy, and they do so well in the pre-season so sometimes you want to see them play under a bit of pressure," Mannah said.
"I thought they handled it very well. The young guys really stood up today and as a senior player it makes us very proud and I think the coaching staff would be proud as well."
Wests fullback Jy Hitchcox found the line early in the match, while winger Corey Brown was a bright spot for the Tigers, finding space twice and putting the pedal down to put two tries to his name.
Dyldam Parramatta Eels: 60 (Ken Sio, Manu Ma’u, Semi Radradra, Ryan Morgan 2, Peni Terepo 2, John Folau, Liam Foran, Toby Evans) Conversions: Ken Sio 3/3, Chris Sandow 7/7
Wests Tigers: 14 (Jy Hitchcox, Corey Brown 2). Conversions: Eli Levido 1/3