The Cumberland Throw

Instant Reaction – CC & Dry: Eels too smooth for Blacktown Workers

It was only one preseason game so the usual disclaimers about trial games are in full effect but the Parramatta Eels launched into a new era in the Canterbury Cup in incandescent fashion as they blew the Blacktown Workers off the park in a 54-12 rout.

Before we jump into the breakdown of the first preseason action in 2020, be sure to have a listen to the first iteration of the pregame show hosted by myself and Sixties. Due to time and technical constraints we were limited to a ten minute run time but we still managed to churn out thoughts on Ryan Carr and the expectations for the Eels in the Canterbury Cup in 2020.

Speaking of Carr, the newly installed coach deserves credit after his team produced one of the cleanest preseason efforts that I can ever recall in this grade for the Eels. The 42-point thrashing was built on the back of an 80min effort in which Parramatta proved to be industrious in both attack and defence. Perhaps most encouraging among the array of positives was the Eels’ ability  to limit their own turnovers and throttle the threat of explosive plays from their opposition.

The Eels started the day with plenty of star power on hand for the Eels today but it was all found in the stands as Ryan Matterson, Shaun Lane and Jaeman Salmon headlined a host of players to turn out in support of their squad-mates. Instead, Parramatta deployed a 25-man roster that leaned heavily on youth and entrusted a handful of returning stalwarts in Henry Rawalui, Brad Keighran and Haimona Hiroti and experienced acquisitions in Eli Levido, Watson Heleta and Makahesi Makatoa to guide them around the park.

Here is roughly how the Eels lined up after myself and my expert offsiders combined our collective powers to scrape together a team list:

1. Sione Fonua
2. Solomone Naiduki (#22)
3. Ethan Parry
4. Watson Heleta
5. Haze Dunster
6. Henry Rawalui (#16)
7. Eli Levido
8. Makahesi Makatoa
9. Brad Keighran
10. Dave Hollis
11. Elie El-Zakhem
12. Aaron Shelford
13. Haimona Hiroti
14. Kyle Schneider
15. Sam Hughes
16. Taufu Afu
17. PJ Vaigalu
18. Michael Cheer
19. Allan Fitzgibbon
20. Ryan King
21. Blake Mara
22. Charbel Tasipale (#23)
23. Tasi James (#19)
24. Jake Arthur
25. Sean Russell (#17)

(There were indeed some duplicate jersey numbers among the 25-man roster)


A first quarter blitz started with Makatoa touching down a grubber kick from Levido before Aaron Shelford posted back-to-back tries down the right edge. Blacktown would hit back to make the scores 6-18 and 12-24 at various points in the first half but from there it was a cascade of points for the home team. Allan Fitzgibbon (2), Henry Rawalui (2), Ethan Parry and Solomone Naiduki rounded out the try scorers while Brad Keighran and Kyle Schneider were flawless from the kicking tee.

Sione Fonua was the pick of the back-line as he posted a largely polished effort in the custodial role at fullback but Naiduki and Parry both scored powerful individual tries to their credit. Levido and Makatoa both impressed in their first outing at the Eels with the former providing Parramatta with a steady hand throughout the game while the latter showcased a number of quality carries and off-the-ball hustle.

The major story line of the day though was the performances of the platoon of young players that featured amidst both the starting and reserve line-up. David Hollis and Sam Hughes, both of whom have been profiled on TCT in recent weeks, didn’t shy away in their first senior action will Hollis impressing with his a number of strong carries while Hughes was sound in attack and executed strongly in defence.

Kyle Schneider was his usual polished self working as the relief dummy half while Charbel Tasipale made several splash plays on the right edge in the second half. New recruit Allan Fitzgibbon showed a serious set of wheels and a nose for the try line and very nearly posted a hat-trick in just the single half of play he was given.

Without a doubt though, the most surprising inclusions today were Jake Arthur and Sean Russel. While the likes of Hollis, Hughes, Schneider and Tasipale are Jersey Flegg eligible, Arthur and Russel take it a step further with both players able to represent the Eels in the SG Ball this season. Although they both received limited minutes in the final quarter, neither shied away from the action. Russel, a multi-talented utility back, helped the Eels work it out from their own half without fear while Jake Arthur, son of head coach Brad, hustled to claim a turnover on midfield, saved a late try by batting a kick dead and put Fitzgibbon over for his second try with a picturesque cutout pass down the right edge.

Both players have a long way to go but today represented a memorable slice of their careers and they can certainly hold their heads up high for the achievement.

Ultimately it was a polished team effort and credit can be equally distributed across the park, bench and coaching staff for an overwhelmingly positive start to the business portion of the preseason. The Eels will be fiercely keen to build on this start throughout this grade and beyond as they eye the Perth 9s and the bushfire relief trial game against the Penrith Panthers.

Stay tuned for more pregame shows and live blogs across the District Representatives and all senior grades in the coming weeks!

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Matthew Sweeney

What to say ! But thankyou. Amazing dedication.


Great to see nearly the whole of the NRL squad there supporting.


Thanks fellas a great read and interesting results. Do we know why Ron massey was cancelled?
Do we also know how strong Manly were? Blacktown i mean?>
It seemed like a clinical performance.


Thanks for the reply forty and i listened to your pre-game show and it was a great insight into the coaches history etc. Well done.

Colin Hussey

Maybe with Dunster and Parry & the errors associated with them and the others is a bit of early nerves. With the both now in the top 30, and contracts ending this season they are wanting to have successful seasons to earn extensions. Both Dunster & Parry, turn 21 in March so really still young and I believe have a good future. I read where Parry came from Werris Creek, rather than the original being he came from Tamworth, I wonder if his dad is Don Parry who owned the transport company at WCK or perhaps his grandfather, I knew… Read more »


Milo, there was apparently some sort of RM Cup preseason comp organised with matches scheduled for this weekend. Could be an oops weather wise!


NSWRL has decided there will be a preseason competition for Ron Massey which will commence this weekend so Ron Massey was cancelled on account of that.

Jake Ritz

You’re off ya head.! .

Colin Hussey

Enjoyed the following of the game blog forty and well done with it. Thanks also for the team and player list supplied here, and names to be remembered if possible.

I notice that the #1 in Sione Fonua had good mention in the report, and likely a fairly common name as a Tongan, any relation as such to the player who was at the tigers?


Great backgrounder guys, many thanks. And good to hear more about Ryan Carr and how the Cantebury Cup set-up. That’s a big roster of players and it seems lots of them contributored to a good 1st up win.


How good is it to have the footy back. A win in a preseason trial does not mean much but a win is always better than a loss

Loved the pre game very informative. Ryan Carr has set the bar high from the start. I am sure he is up to the pressure

Only problem for me is Forty you are going to have to snuggle closer to Sixties. I was having trouble hearing you

Great stuff keep it up

John Eel


Forty was holding the mic John. I’m just loud!


I think Forty would be great to commentate on snooker….Pot Black type. Both superb.


Hi guys,
I just listened to the TCT pregame show & it was interesting to hear the tie up with Wenty & Guildford, which is great, but I wonder why Cabra isn’t in there. So many good players come out of Cabra & I remember watching an Eels v Bulldogs game that had 7 Cabra juniors between the 2 teams.


They formed a relationship with the Bulldogs in 2018.


Thats working well

Ethans Mum

seems like Parry is above CC class. Should see him have a few more games in first grade this year


Consistent form in CC should be his first goal. That puts him in the mix when injuries occur – as they always do. So many players start their NRL career after injuries strike the players above them in the NRL. Back in 2018, Reed began the preseason as the number 4 dummy half. Injuries left him at number 1. Every player, no matter the position, needs to keep reminding the coaches that they are ready to step up.


Random comment Forty. That headline looks benign, but there’s a bit in it. Nice one, about 30 to go.

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