The Dyldam Parramatta Eels Under 15 and Senior Talent Squads were in action on the weekend, with both sides going down in their first trial game of the season, against the Central Queensland (2016 Cyril Connell Squad) and St. Helens R.F.C Academy at New Era Stadium, Cabramatta on Sunday 25 October.
Both Blue and Gold Talent Squads entered the weekend with a handful of injuries keeping some of their young, talented juniors on the sidelines, however both teams were highly competitive in their respective games.
The Eels Under 15 Talent Squad kicked off the day in warm conditions against a highly skilled Central Queensland outfit. The Central Queensland side kicked off the clash with two tries in the opening 20 minutes, before the Blue and Gold struck back with a try of their own. However the Central Queensland side capitalized on their field possession to score again and enter the sheds with a 16-4 lead.
Central Queensland continued the second half where they left off, scoring a break away try three minutes in. A try to the Eels shortly after left the game in the balance and the Blue and Gold to make a charge at a comeback, however the Central Queensland side proved to be too strong as they continued to score tries in the latter stages of the game, coming away with a comfortable 42-16 victory.
The Blue and Gold Senior Talent Squad kicked off the afternoon against the touring St Helens R.F.C Academy, who came into the clash with an unbeaten record on the road, after wins against the Wests Tigers and Central Coast academies from their Tour of Australia.
The Eels made the most of their size early on, as they rolled into good field position early to open the scoring in the first five minutes.
After a tough battle up front, St Helens struck back with a short side play to level the scoring. However the Eels fired up and as they camped in the St Helens half, they came away with two quick back to back tries to earn a 16-6 lead.
The visitors scored off the back of some strong carries up front and their winger scored his second try of the afternoon, before both sides headed into the sheds for a well deserved break, with the Eels leading 16-10.
An early error to kick off the second half from the Eels gave the Saints good field position, and they made the most of the opportunity, levelling the score with a converted try.
With neither side willing to budge, both teams became locked in a tough arm wrestle for the majority of the second half as they battled through the humid conditions, before the Blue and Gold opted for a field goal, taking a one point lead with two minutes on the clock.
With the game looking wrapped up, a big defensive effort from the Saints forced an error providing one more twist in the affair. A quick packed scrum, and two plays down the field saw the Saints in attacking position before finding space for their second rower to win a footrace to score in the corner.
A missed conversion on the siren meant the St Helens R.F.C secured a 20-17 win on the buzzer.
The games form part of the continual pathway development to the Under 15 and Senior Talent Squads, who will continue to train under the close eye of Parramatta Eels staff in late 2015 and 2016, in hopes of preparing the talented youngsters for potential futures in the Eels District Representative Teams (SG Ball and Harold Matthews).
The trial matches and pre-season will continue to test the athletes skills and development ahead of the 2016 season.