Eels Jersey Flegg Squad
1. Sione Fonua
2. Taufa Afu
3. Tuimavave Afualo
4. JP Nohra
5. William Kei
6. Clayton Faullalo
7. Bailey Biondi-Odo
8. James Porter
9. Nick Tilburg
10. Aistasi James
11. Charbel Tasipale
12. Arron Shelford
13. Jesse Cronin
14. Joey Small
15. Bruce Ward
16. Harry Hanley
17. Tyler Tuigamala
18. Jack Jordan
19. Brenton Doyle-O’Donnell
20. Mick Goggin
Kyle Schneider comes straight into the starting team at hooker.
Lovely Saturday afternoon out at Penrith as we brace ourselves for an action packed day of footy featuring the Flegg, ISP and of course the NRL. It is the final preseason hit-out for these clubs as they look to settle play-making combinations and team chemistry. However there is an interesting twist to this year’s trials as the Eels and the Panthers play each other in Round 1. Look for both clubs to keep things pretty vanilla today as they pull their punches for when it really counts in a couple of weeks.
The Eels are receiving the kickoff. Bailey Bindi-Odo sends James Porter into the defensive line but Parramatta make a meal of their opening possession two tackles later when they lose the ball in a tackle. Penrith on the attack immediately. A big break comes back to the Eels as the Panthers produce a similar error early in their count.
Afualo is met in a strong hit but he drives forwards. Cronin takes the ball over halfway and the Eels shift left from there. Two passes back to the ruck to find Aitasi James before Biondi-Odo heaves a terrific bomb that comes down a couple of metres from the goal line. Good set from the Eels there.
Although the Eels begin the following defensively set strongly there is a complete breakdown in communication down our right edge and the Panthers cut through the gap between Afualo and Tasipale. Fonua can’t shut down the 2-on-1 and the Panthers complete a 70m suckerpunch for the opening points.
Try scored by the Penrith Panthers.
Penrith lead 4-0
No conversions today.
Penrith complete their set after points with a pretty ordinary kick drilled low along the ground. Fonua tidies it up and heads towards the chasers. The Eels focus their efforts down their left edge with Biondi-Odo running the show. Parramatta run it down their right on the last and break the line out wide with Tyler Tuigamala on the wing but some outstanding scrambling defence from the Panthers shuts down the play even with a quality offload from the Eels keeping the ball alive for a moment longer.
Two sets later the Eels are on the attack after the Panthers are pinging for infringing inside the 10m mark. Again they start the set by building down their left edge but just as they set up for the right edge shift they are penalised for an incorrect play-the-ball. Easy call there for the official. James the culprit I believe.
Penrith roll downfield as they send some big bodies down their left edge. They are set up for an attacking kick on the last but choose to run the ball down their right edge, attacking the short side, they look to go close to scoring but their winger plants a foot on the sideline and the raid comes to an end.
The Eels kick early in reply, looking to flip the field as BBO drives an angled kick prospectively looking for a 40/20. The bounce isn’t kind for the Eels though and the Penrith custodian tidies the kick up on the third bounce. The Panthers do however turn the football over a couple of tackles later as they force one offload too many but time is blown off for an injured Eel – Tuiagamala by the looks of it.
Nice backline move from the scrum nearly gets Fonua through the defensive line wide out left but the Panthers barely pull him down. We try to complete our set with a grubber kick behind the uprights but the Panthers clean the ball up in the front line and are pulled down after a 10m gain.
Oh brilliant play from Schneider! He breaks a lull in play with a sensational 40/20! Couldn’t have hit that any sweeter! Just like with the Wenty trial against the Bears a couple of weeks ago the Eels immediately attack the left edge from 40/20 scrum win and cross out wide! Fonua throws the try-assisting pass to William Kei.
Try scored by William Kei. Conversion unsuccessful by Schneider.
Eels lock the score up at 4-all
Okay, seems like Parramatta are taking conversion attempts. Who knows what the go is?
Big shot by the Panthers from the kickoff but the Eels stay composed and work to the end of their set where Biondi-Odo drives the ball downfield with an excellent clearing kick. Penrith complete a simple set in return and Parra seize the momentum with strong carries to Jack Jordan and Jesse Cronin. A good kick ices the set and Penrith have to work the ball out from close to their goal line.
Ooooh, a towering torpedo bomb comes at the end of the Penrith attacking set. No one wants a piece of it at all but an Eels is clearly tackled without the ball but the officials miss it. The Eels end up wrapping up the Penrith player that fields the bouncing ball and the turnover on tackles is enforced. Parramatta nearly score in the following set as their left edge opens up the Panthers with some deft passing between the backs out wide. Kei tries to grubber back infield to BBO and the halfback barely wins the race to the bouncing ball but can’t regather it cleanly and we come back out for a 20m restart.
Another bustling carry from Jack Jordan. He has impressed from the interchange bench in the first half. Both teams have settled into the arm wrestle here.
Just as I type that the Panthers are done for an incorrect play-the-ball. Parramatta back on the attack with 8min left in the half. Biondi-Odo shows deceptive strength to wrest free of a couple of defenders. Parramatta nearly cross down their right edge but the 5/8 Faullalo passes to early and Penrith scramble. Fonua forces an error with a neat grubber kick, more pressure for the home team now.
BBO nearly slices through from the scrum win. The Eels swing left but are repelled before coming back to the posts with Jack Jordan. Biondi-Odo nearly earns another repeat set with a well weighted grubber kick but some quick thinking from the Penrith back sees him reach out and place the ball in the field of play. A penalty then follows for the Panthers as the Eels are done for slowing down the ruck.
Good defence from the Eels in the penalty set. They are rewarded with a 7-tackle set when the Penrith grubber kick barely trickles over the dead ball line.
Ah crap, an error from Jordan in the play-the-ball undoes a promising attacking set for the Eels. Fortunately Penrith oblige with an error in return. Oh dear, Parramatta one-up Penrith again with an error from the scrum win…less than a minute to play as well. Awful game management there.
They go on to concede a ruck penalty as the siren rings out but Penrith aren’t interested in taking a shot at a penalty goal so that brings an end to play.
Parramatta Eels 4 locked up with the Penrith Panthers 4
An early error from the Panthers puts Parramatta on the attack. Faullalo nearly slices through on the right edge. We venture left with BBO but an errant pass to him prevents him from linking up with outside support. Schneider looks to stab a grubber kick in behind but Penrith tidy it up 1m off their line. Not a terrible result by any means but the Eels undo the pressure by conceding the first penalty of the half.
Oh geez, Penrith cut through our front line with an outside-inside play but there was a blatant forward pass there with the touchy directly in line. Still it goes uncalled and the Penrith fullback cuts through with electric speed and beats Fuallalo who is playing at acting fullback.
Try scored by the Penrith Panthers. Conversion unsuccessful.
Penrith lead 8-4
Biondi-Odo is off and getting assessed for a jaw injury by the looks of things. Back to the game and shockingly the officials have finally caught a forward pass. Parramatta set up the scrum 10m into Penrith’s half. They work to the left with Shelford but two tackles later they are pinged for their second incorrect play-the-ball of the day – this one is far more contentious than the others so far…think that was the wrong call.
Penrith capitalise on the questionable call as they cross down their left edge on the back of a late offload from their second rower. Eels scrambled well to accost the backrower initially but couldn’t wrap him up completely resulting in the try.
Try scored by the Penrith Panthers. Conversion unsuccessful.
Penrith lead 12-4
Another reshuffle in the spine following the BBO injury. Faullalo back into the halves with JP Nohra pushing to fullback. Nohra takes a spectacular take to defuse an ominous bomb just as I type that as well.
The first big break in play after a couple sets comes as an Eel, Afualo I think, is taken out in the air trying to clean up a bomb. A strong run from Tasipale draws big metres and then a penalty and the Eels find touch 25m out from the Penrith goal line. They work from left to right with JAmes Porter flying into the line near the uprights. Back to the left with #16 before we are at the posts once more. Some lovely hands down the right edge put Tui Afualo in the corner! Nohra the man with the silky money pass I think. Afualo might take out the gong for the game’s biggest nugget on the wing.
Try scored by Tui Afualo. Conversion unsuccessful.
Eels trail 8-12
Jack Jordan is back into the fray as he earns a penalty in the kickoff set. The Eels start the set with some nice running around the ruck but a poor pass from Fualllalo results in an error. The pressure valve is released for Penrith.
Oh that is just a terrific offload from the Penrith half. Almost impossible to defend that kind of second phase ball as he releases the right edge backrower into the backfield. Nohra has to contend with a 3-on-1 and the Penrith backrower finds his other half backing up on his inside for the try. That was just quality football from the home team.
Try scored by the Penrith Panthers. Conversion successful.
Penrith lead 18-8
A surging carry from the kickoff takes Penrith to their 30m line but two tackles later all the momentum is undone by an old-fashioned shepherd. Parramatta back in possession.
Tasipale takes the run from the tap restart. Left to Cronin who finds Porter in turn. Nice little short ball to Tasipale on the third before Aitasi sorties towards the posts. Porter steams onto the ball as the he undercuts the dummy half on the inside but Penrith barely keep him out. The fifth tackle kick from Faullalo in cleaned up by the Panthers pretty comfortably.
Bit of a grind now as both teams have traded sets without any sort of happening of note.
Oh that is just awful officiating there. Afualo cleans up a cheap kick from the Panthers but has the ball reefed out of his grip in a one-on-one tackle. The only issue is that he was on the ground and the tackled was immediately completed. The Eels immediately concede a penalty for slowing play down and Penrith getting a golden chance to ice the game.
They cross a couple of times this set only to be held up both times and they drive a grubber kick deep over the dead ball line on the last. Quality defensive set from Parramatta there.
Some rousing defence from the Eels in the next set as well! They drive a Penrith winger a good 12m back into his in-goals! Big play with just over 3min left on the clock.
Jordan and Cronin take the opening charges. Left now as Fuallalo runs it to the line but can’t find his outside men. Porter centres the ball before second phase play on the next tackle gives Fuallalo a chance to open up an overlap outwide but he holds onto the ball. Frustrating call there.
Penrith bust through the line in the next set but a terrific defensive play from Nohra sees him bat down the pass to a would-be try scorer. Consecutive penalties against the Eels allow both teams to reset and Penrith will have 40sec to score. The official imposes himself on the game in a big show of quality game management as he bins Kyle Schneider for repeated infringements by the Eels. The home team throw the ball around on the last play of the game and the Eels dive on a loose pass before getting a penalty of their own. Neither team is interested in playing a moment more and the Eels drill the ball into touch and call it there.
Penrith Panthers 18 def. Parramatta Eels 8