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Eels annihilate Knights in final trial match

The Eels enjoyed a strong end to their pre-season campaign by cruising past Newcastle in a 36-14 trial match triumph.

Parramatta showed plenty of promise in their final match before the 2023 season-opener, scoring seven tries to three with a strong line-up on show on the Central Coast.

The Eels’ attack was particularly impressive, with Sean Russell scoring a double while Matt Doorey, Clint Gutherson, Dylan Brown, Jack Murchie and Isaac Lumelume also crossed the line.

J’maine Hopgood had an outstanding first performance in the Blue & Gold, while the Eels spine of Gutherson, Brown, Mitchell Moses and Josh Hodgson combined well in their first match together.

The positive performance came at a cost however, as second rowers Shaun Lane and Matt Doorey suffered injuries in the early stages of either half.

After losing Lane and conceding an early try to the Knights through Dominic Young, Parramatta’s fortunes turned in a big way as they scored two stunning, improvised tries to take the lead.

The Eels’ first points came through a lovely passage of play when a pair of pinpoint offloads by J’maine Hopgood and Junior Paulo sent Matt Doorey diving over the try line.

Doorey scores a doozy

Clint Gutherson then turned on the skill to start and finish the Eels’ second try. The Eels co-captain toed ahead twice on a piece of second phase play, before another kick by Hopgood put in on a plate for Gutherson to score.

The Eels turn on the skill

Leading 12-4, the Eels went back on the attack when Mitchell Moses landed a rare 20/40.

The opportunity would not go to waste, as the Eels executed a backline play to perfection for Gutherson to send Sean Russell over on the right wing.

Excellent execution sends Russell over

Newcastle pulled one back against the run of play when Bradman Best broke through a backpedalling defensive line, but the Eels quickly responded.

Mitchell Moses sliced through the Knights’ left edge from 40 metres out, put the foot down and found halves partner Dylan Brown rushing up in support.

Magic as Moses and Brown combine

The halfback added the extras to give the Eels a 12-point buffer at the break.

Newcastle nearly nabbed a try on the half-time siren when Dom Young chased down a kick to the corner, but Isaac Lumelume kept up with the pacey winger and forced an error to preserve Parramatta’s comfortable lead.

An injury to Matt Doorey early in the second half put a damper on the afternoon, although it would not halt the Eels’ momentum.

Parramatta’s fifth try came early into the second stanza, as Jake Arthur put a perfect pass on the chest of Jack Murchie for the Eels first-gamer to stroll over and extend the advantage to 28-10.

Murchie hits the gap

While the Eels’ attack was firing, their defence showed plenty of promise too.

Some rock solid goal-line defence kept the Knights at bay before a Sean Russell intercept put the Eels straight back on the attack. The young back then finished what he started, sliding over for his second try at the end of a shift to the right wing.

Newcastle added some respectability to the score line when Greg Marzhew crashed over out wide, but it was the Eels who had the final say.

Isaac Lumelume put an exclamation point on a great afternoon for the Eels with the last play of the game when he bulldozed over for a try from dummy half, making it a 22-point win for the Blue & Gold.

Lumelume puts the Knights to bed

FULL-TIME: Parramatta Eels 36 (Tries: Sean Russell 2, Matt Doorey, Clint Gutherson, Dylan Brown, Jack Murchie, Isaac Lumelume. Goals: Moses 4) defeated Newcastle Knights 14.

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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