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Enterprising Eels impress in final trial match

The Eels wrapped up their pre-season campaign with an impressive 26-16 trial match win over the Titans in Ipswich on Sunday.

Parramatta showed no sign of pre-season rust in a spectacular attacking display, despite 11 players featuring for the first time in 2024.

Tries by Will Penisini, Maika Sivo, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Bryce Cartwright and J’maine Hopgood put Parramatta beyond the Titans’ reach in a highly promising performance ahead of the Eels’ season-opener against the Bulldogs.

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Hopgood put in a huge shift with 234 run metres and 31 tackles in addition to his try, while Clint Gutherson, Mitchell Moses and Junior Paulo each registered try assists in their returns from injury.

The Eels got off to a scintillating start in the Ipswich heat, taking a 4-0 lead inside five minutes.

The Eels set their sights on the Titans left edge as the ball was shifted to Bryce Cartwright following an Ofahiki Ogden offload. The backrower attracted several defenders before getting an arm free to unleash Will Penisini, who carved through three Titans players en route to the try line.

Penisini carves through the Titans

It was not long before the Titans cancelled out the opener, as Tanah Boyd’s cut-out pass sent Phillip Sami over on the right wing for 4-4.

The Eels worked their way into attacking territory when Dylan Brown’s clever kick and Bailey Simonsson’s spirited chase forced a Titans dropout. Kelma Tuilagi secured the short dropout, and Parramatta seized the opportunity.

The Blue & Gold’s well-oiled left edge clicked into gear, as Dylan Brown, Clint Gutherson, Bailey Simonsson and Maika Sivo linked up for the Fijian winger to score in the corner.

Eels left edge clicks into gear

Mitchell Moses converted from the sideline to put Parramatta into a 10-4 lead.

A drinks break midway through the first half did little to cool Parramatta’s red-hot attack, as the Eels laid on their third try shortly after the restart.

Junior Paulo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard combined for an all-prop four-pointer, as Paulo drew in the defence and passed for a barnstorming Campbell-Gillard to slide over. Moses’ conversion gave the Eels a 12-point advantage.

Paulo & RCG in an all-prop try

The Titans came within inches of hitting back through AJ Brimson, but he was dragged down and denied at the try-line in a desperate effort from Simonsson and Brown.

Bailey and Brown deny Brimson

The Eels could not be contained at the other end of the park, as Mitchell Moses and Bryce Cartwright linked up in a beautiful try to wrap up the first half.

Moses drifted wide and kicked back inside as he approached the sideline, putting it on a dime for Cartwright to pounce and score. With four first-half tries in a spectacular attacking display, the Eels took a 20-4 lead to the break.

Moses kicks off the Carty party!

The Titans turned defence into attack to score the first try of the second half. After a left-edge attack fizzled out and the football hit the deck, AJ Brimson picked up the scraps and dashed 90 metres to score.

It took mere minutes for the Eels to respond however, and it came through a spectacular passage of play.

The Eels crafted a gaping hole in the Titans defence with offloads and inside passes, putting Clint Gutherson into space. The Co-Captain then found J’maine Hopgood pushing up in support, and the lock forward sprinted 30 metres to score under the posts.

No pre-season rust in PARRAdise

Leading 26-8 midway through the first half, Parramatta shut up shop as Brad Arthur begun resting his starters.

The Titans salvaged two consolation tries on either wing through Alofiana Khan-Pereira and Jojo Fifita, but the Eels’ attacking brilliance proved the difference in a positive final trial match.

The Eels will enjoy 13 days of recovery and preparation before kicking off their 2024 campaign in a blockbuster battle with the Bulldogs at CommBank Stadium on Saturday 9 March.

Be there for the Eels 2024 season-opener against the Bulldogs! Only in PARRAdise.

PARRAdise is what you make it. Become a 2024 Parramatta Eels member today!

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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