Parramatta dominated their trial against the Dragons 28-6 with some of their rookie backs showing plenty of promise while veteran playmakers Will Smith and Jordan Rankin controlled proceedings expertly.
There was a smattering of NRL talent on show for both sides with the Eels running out most of their new recruits in Keegan Hipgrave, Isaiah Papali'i, Tom Opacic and Michael Oldfield, with the first three very impressive but Oldfield leaving the field early with an injury.
Papali'i, one of the best on ground in his first game for his new club, said he enjoyed the hit-out after a long summer.
"It was fun. It didn't feel like it was my first game for this club," Papali'i said.
"The pre-season really helped me get used to the environment. Going out there was a bit of fun after all the hard training the boys had been doing."
Despite starting on an edge before moving in tighter, Papali'i felt his best value at NRL level for the club would be in the middle.
"I'm hoping to play a bit more middle this year and stay there as long as I can," he added.
"I think I was ready to move on (from the Warriors) and grow so coming here was a good thing, the middles they have are going well in their prime years so I thought here I could grow a lot more as a middle."
Match: Dragons v Eels
Round 2 -
Venue: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Sydney
The Dragons didn't help themselves with plenty of handling errors but there were a few bright spots, including Jack Bird getting through his first footy in a year unscathed.
Bird had a quiet stint at left centre despite all the talk through the off-season being around his move to lock – though coach Anthony Griffin may have been easing him back after a year since his previous game, a Broncos trial prior to his pre-season ACL injury.
Bird did have one nice moment, producing a strong tackle for an Eels error followed by the short ball to send Mat Feagai on a long run.
New Dragons hooker Andrew McCullough had a workmanlike 20 minutes to ease himself in to his first game since a ruptured hamstring while playing for Newcastle last season.
Jayden Sullivan had some bright touches at halfback and the Feagai twins were impressive with the long-range run from Mat eventually leading to a try, fed by Brayden Wiliame to Max, in the right corner.
Feagai brothers coast to coast effort gives us the opener
Cody Ramsey added some spark at fullback with a couple of half breaks but produced a couple of worrying errors under no pressure at all to hand the Eels momentum.
There were no injury concerns other than a head clash to reserve forward Josh Coric.
Eels fans will be heartened by a belligerent opening half from former Papalii, who produced some crunching hits and strong carries while ex-Titan Hipgrave was busy in defence in his 20-minute starting stint.
Winger Haze Dunster and teenage pair centre Will Penisini and fullback Sean O'Sullivan all looked dangerous for Parramatta while former Cowboy Opacic, the man most likely to fill Michael Jennings' vacant centre spot, was a steady presence on the left edge and scored a nice try fed by Will Smith. Penisini powered over for an impressive solo try early in the second half.
Penisini finds space from a scrum
Smith was arguably best on ground as he looks to convince coach Brad Arthur he warrants a spot in the NRL 17, not only setting up Opacic but stepping over for a lovely solo try to hand the Eels the lead shortly before half-time.
Halfback Jake Arthur looked very composed for his age and was most impressive in defence, running down Ramsey in open space and producing back-to-back tackles in the middle more than once. He also had some assured kicks, including one for a line dropout.
Smith steps through the Dragons
Journeyman playmaker Jordan Rankin came on after 20 minutes and had stints at both fullback and in the halves, controlling proceedings well and, kicking four goals from five attempts including some tough shots from the sideline.
Oldfield went off very early with what looked to be a knee injury, which was iced after the game.
The Eels had the better of the first quarter before Bird and the Feagai twins combined against the run of play for first points before Smith's efforts created two quick tries for the Eels to lead 10-6 at half-time.
Penisini's try straight after half time was quickly followed by a strong solo effort from Oregon Kaufusi to make it 22-6.
After a lull, young Fijian winger Solomone Naiduki cashed in on an overlap to make it 28-6. There were a few more exchanges before the trial was called off 11 minutes early by mutual agreement.