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Eels prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard.

Eels recruit Reagan Campbell-Gillard apologised to his teammates after he christened the new captain's challenge rule with an embarrassing blunder.

The raft of new rules for the 2020 NRL season had an inauspicious start in Parramatta's sluggish 8-2 win over Canterbury on Thursday night.

The season opener was marred by a huge error rate from both sides with plenty of penalties given away, two shocking attempts at captain's challenges and the new scrum plays generating attempts at improvisation but few scares for either defensive team.

The Eels burned their captain's challenge when Campbell-Gillard convinced Clint Gutherson he had had the ball stripped. The Bunker had little difficulty upholding the on-field decision of knock on.

"He got up and was looking for me so I backed him!" Gutherson laughed of the incident.

"It was all right, not much to it. I spoke to Brad (Arthur) before the game and that was the first time I spoke to him about it.

"He just said if someone thinks they (the refs) got it wrong just back them. Reggie said sorry after but it's just part of the game now I guess."

Match Highlights: Eels v Bulldogs

Halfback Mitch Moses said it would continue to be about backing the players.

"We were pretty confident with Reg, we went up and asked him, he's like 'yeah, yeah, he (Jeremy Marshall-King)) had a hand on the ball'," Moses said.

"I don't know how it's going to go to be honest."

The fact the Eels lost their only review a quarter of the way into the game could have proved vital given the 2-all deadlock was only broken by a somewhat fortuitous try in the final 15 minutes but neither was unfazed.

"I don't know if we could have used it again but Reg was pretty adamant he wanted Gutho to challenge it so I just backed the boys if he wanted to challenge," he said.

Parramatta captain's challenge - unsuccessful

One of the new rules tipped to favour the Eels - a ban on tackling any player leaping for a ball even if they are in attack - amounted to little as they failed to send any high balls out for Blake Ferguson or Maika Sivo.

The Eels did attempt some improvisation around the new option to take scrum feeds in the middle of the field or on the far edges.

A scrum that would normally have been on the far left was moved to the far right in the 22nd minute and the 33rd they took an attacking midfield scrum to the left touch line.

The Dogs moved a sideline scrum to the middle in just the fifth minute and in the 79th and chasing points a middle scrum was moved to the mid-right, forcing the Eels to leave Sivo guarding no-one on the short side while the Dogs gained a numbers advantage on the long left side.

"It's a bit just feeling it out, we'll probably play around with it a bit more. It was a scrappy game, you don't want an error straight off the scrum but we'll fix that up and see what happens," Moses said.

Overall, Moses was just relieved that despite the attack misfiring and errors mounting, the defence was enough to force the win.

"That's what games are like at the start of the year, slippery ball, a lot of sweat on the ball," he said.

"We didn't complete in the first half. We were lucky to be 2-all going into half-time and we just completed in the second half. We defended on our line, kept turning up for each other and that's what won the game.

"Our defence kept turning up, they didn't score a try, so we'll take a lot of positives out of that. If we keep turning over easy ball against good sides like the Roosters they'll crucify you so we have to fix that up."

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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