It was a case of what might have been for the Eels Junior Representative teams in their round one matches with the Roosters.
Despite leading at half time in all three games, critical errors placed each grade on the wrong side of the ledger when the full time whistle blew.
In the early clash at Mascot Oval, the Roosters and Eels Harold Matthews sides traded a multitude of handling mistakes during a tough but scrappy first half.
The Roosters were the first to post points on the back of early repeat sets. Their dummy half, Jaxson Allen, signalled his attacking intentions with a close range dart to the line.
The conversion left the Eels six points behind after just four minutes.
Not to be outdone, Parramatta’s Matt Arthur replied with a big double play on either side of a penalty to set his team deep in the Roosters red zone. A shift to the left stripped the Tri-colours for numbers and Eels centre Michael Gabrael planted the ball down out wide.
Best Moments: Eels Juniors, Round One
The missed conversion left Parra two points behind after seven minutes.
Both teams then traded tough collisions and errors for the remainder of the first half until the Eels were given an opportunity on the cusp of half time.
Michael Gabreal was put into space down the left edge, and he linked with winger Luke Maroun who improved his position after crossing the line.
The successful conversion from Mohamed Alameddine put the Eels in front 10 to 6 at the break.
Unfortunately, the lead didn’t last long after Parra were ruled to have passed the ball forward on the kick off reception. The Roosters were immediately on the attack and made the Eels pay with a try to centre Lachlan Dooner.
The try was unconverted, but after barely two minutes of the second half the scores were locked at 10 all.
Those errors were costing the Eels dearly and the Roosters added two more converted tries in quick succession as they extended their lead to 22 to 10.
With less than five minutes remaining, Parra winger Richard Penisini put the Eels in with a chance after he scored out wide, but the missed conversion left the Eels eight points adrift.
As the clock ticked down, the Roosters successfully defended the last attacking raids from the Eels to finish deserved winners.
The Tarsha Gale Cup match seemed to be following a familiar pattern when the Roosters Indigenous Academy were the first to score, but then the Eels struck back to lead at the break.
Live wire Roosters dummy half Ally Bullman opened the scoring when she proved too fast for the Eels defence, posting an unconverted try after eight minutes.
Alysha Bell levelled the scores for the Eels midway through the half picking up Tallara Bamblett’s deft cross-field grubber to touch down for her first try.
Bell then brought supporters to their feet with an impressive conversion from out wide for the Eels to lead 6 to 4, a scoreline that would remain unchanged until the half time break.
For the first eleven minutes of the second half the Eels produced outstanding goal line defence to repel wave after wave of Roosters attack. Ultimately the pressure eventually told and the Roosters added two converted tries to skip out to a ten point lead.
Fleet footed Eels winger Anita Kanj reduced that lead to six when she demonstrated the value of playing to the whistle.
The Roosters dropped the ball inside the Eels half and everyone stared at it except Anita. She scooped it up to run over 60 metres untouched to the line.
With five minutes to go it was game on. Unfortunately, the Eels knocked the ball on from the kick off and then conceded a soft try to put the match out of reach.
Despite the loss, this was a very encouraging performance from the Eels against a quality opponent. Coach Ryan Walker will be looking to build on that form in their next match.
It was Parra who gained the early ascendancy in their SG Ball clash with the Roosters at Wyong.
With possession and territory falling their way in the wake of multiple Roosters errors, the Eels set up camp deep in the Roosters half.
A grubber kick from Parra five-eighth Riley Lack was seized upon by halves partner Ethan Sanders for the first try. The conversion was missed in the windy conditions but the Eels had a four point lead after 12 minutes.
The home side took advantage of the strong breeze by executing a massive 40/20 kick. Smart Roosters dummy half, Tyler Moriarty, made the retreating defence look ordinary when he darted over on the second play the ball.
The conversion in these conditions would ultimately provide a decisive buffer.
Late in the first half, Parra fullback Arthur Miller-Stephen ran a great line off the left hip of Ethan Sanders to score untouched in the left corner. The conversion from out wide proved too difficult but the Eels took a two point lead into the sheds at the break.
Though in front on the scoreboard, Parra’s errors were becoming numerous. Three errors in the play the ball alone gifted the opposition possession that they didn’t deserve.
The majority of the second half was spent camped in the Roosters half and the Eels looked likely to score numerous times. A combination of resilient Roosters defence and Parra errors kept the visitors at bay.
It was no surprise that an Eels error from a Roosters kick would change the course of the game with less than ten minutes left on the clock.
That Parra fumble left the home side deep on the attack, and Moriarty again delivered the pain via a solo dash to the line for his second try that gave his team a two point lead.
Powerful Roosters back rower Michael Abdo secured the victory by crashing through the Eels defence in a ten metre charge to the line.
Harold Matthews Cup
Roosters 22 defeated the Eels 14 (Tries: Michael Gabrael, Luke Maroun, Richard Penisini. Goals: Mohamed Alameddine 1)
Tarsha Gale Cup
Roosters Indigenous Academy 22 defeated the Eels 10 (Tries: Alysha Bell, Ameena Kanj Goals: Alysha Bell 1)
SG Ball Cup
Roosters 14 defeated the Eels 8 (Tries: Ethan Sanders, Arthur Miller-Stephen)
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Arthur Miller-Stephen (SG)
Junior Wright (SG)
Michael Gabreal (HM)
Petesa Lio (TG)
Ameena Kanj (TG)
Tallara Bamblett (TG)
Katalina Vave (TG)
Larry Muagututia (SG)
Ashlee Pottinger (TG)
Ruby-Jean Kennard (TG)
Jezaiah Funa-Luta (HM)
Saxon Pryke (SG)
Nick Lenaz (SG)
Lei-Lani Tua (TG)
Markis Atoa (SG)
Kasey Quye (TG)
Raff Destradis (SG)