Eels Downed by Tigers in Trial
The Dyldam Parramatta Eels have been defeated 20-4 on Friday night by a spirited Wests Tigers side at ANZAC Oval in Alice Springs.
With the mercury sitting at 34 degrees at ANZAC Oval, the pace was frantic from the first kick off, with both sides locked in end-to-end footy.
And while the Blue and Gold piled on early pressure with deft work from Ryan Morgan and fullback Adam Quinlan to defuse the Tigers’ attacking game and build possession, the Blue and Gold couldn’t capitalise to put points on the board.
Rolling on the momentum from a scrum feed on the 30 metre line the Eels spread the ball to the left corner to Halauafu Lavaka, but the big winger was held up and denied.
Halfback Luke Kelly proved the biggest threat to the visitors’ defence as he snuck through the Wests Tigers defence, chipped over fullback Shannon McDonnell, but was stopped in his chase by a collision with McDonnell.
With the Tigers earning two quick penalties before quarter time, the away side started the second 20 minute spell with the ball in hand, and with four back-to-back sets to make their mark, captain Robbie Farah sent the ball through the hands of Josh Drinkwater to winger Kevin Naqaima to open the scoring in the 27th minute.
In a second quarter peppered with handling errors from both sides, the heat clearly took its toll on both sides as the penalty count soared and penalties around the ruck became frequent.
And while the Eels kept the Tigers in check for a 4-0 scoreline at the halftime break, the visitors found their form early in the third quarter to put their stamp on the match.
In just the 42nd minute Ava Seumanufagai broke the line for the Tigers, Drinkwater kicked for a repeat set, and Delouise Hoeter grounded a grubber kick from his halfback for a try and an 8-0 lead.
Led by young second-rower Lamar Liolevave, the Wests Tigers were aggressive in defence, forcing turnovers and taking full advantage of penalties to send winger Pat Richards over in the left corner for another four-pointer in the 55th minute.
Josh Drinkwater notched up three try-assists in the course of the match, with his third coming in the form of a grubber kick for Kevin Naqaima’s second try of the night.
In a game marked by strong running and neat offloads, but tempered by lapses in ball control, the Blue and Gold struck back to get points on the board in a powerful one-on-one effort from Fabian Goodall.
The young outside back stripped the ball one-on-one from Pat Richards in goal to ground the ball, taking the score to 20-4 with just minutes to play.
Second-rower David Gower came from the field in the third quarter following a strong contact, but did not require off-field medical treatment.
The Dyldam Parramatta Eels now begin preparation for their second trial match of 2015 against the Penrith Panthers on Saturday, February 21.
Wests Tigers - 20 (Naqaima 2, Hoeter, Richards. Goals: Richards 1/3. Drinkwater: 1/1)
Parramatta Eels - 4 (Goodall. Goals: Kelly 0/1)