The Cumberland Throw

Live Blog – Canterbury Cup Trial vs Blacktown Workers

The first action of the preseason is upon us at the Parramatta Eels. In their new incarnation as a sole entity in the Canterbury Cup, they take on Blacktown Workers in a trial game at Ringrose Park. Naturally it should be a given that this evening’s affair will be of a scrappy nature and rife with misplays as both teams look to shake of the rust but any footy is damn good footy at this point!

While the Parramatta Eels have an extremely well defined top-end roster – none of whom should be expected to turn out today – there are some intriguing options that could see playing time today. A bevy of young players like John Fonua, Ethan Parry, Haze Dunster, Dave Hollis, Sam Hughes and Kyle Schneider have the opportunity to hit the ground running today while more established fringe NRL talents may also feature.

Kickoff is at 6:00PM and updates will run right through to full-time so stay tuned!

It ended up as something of a rush job given some technical constraints but you can catch the thoughts of Sixties and I in our pregame show below!


First Half


The Eels kick off and force an early error from the Workers! They go on the attack early as John Fonua works against the left edge of the Workers. No progress there but they are patient and bring play to the last tackle as Eli Levido rolls a kick towards the posts. I *think* it was a big man flying through in chase, Makahesi Makatoa in the #8 might be the man, to jam a hand down on the rolling pill for the opening points.


Try scored by Makahesi Makatoa. Converted by Brad Keighran.

Eels lead 6-0

4min gone


Good footy from the Eels as they push through their set and then defend strongly to force a kick from deep inside Workers’ half. Dunster makes a terrific charge up the middle as he shakes off defenders and bounces off the ground once or twice to make 30m. To the right now for the Eels as Dave Hollis finds another big bopper in the #16 who then pops a gorgeous short ball to Aaron Shelford who cruises over for the second try of the first quarter.


Try scored by Aaron Shelford. Conversion successful by Brad Keighran.

Eels lead 12-0

9min gone


All the momentum with the Eels now as they earn a penalty coming out of their half. Ethan Parry and Dave Hollis get the drive going before a left edge shift to Watson Heleta who beats a defender before jagging back to the posts. The attack switches back to the posts as the Eels continue to pivot play from their big men. Hollis is again used as a link man but play breaks down fortuitously this time around as he deflects a pass backwards that ends up in the waiting arms of Shelford who slices through for an early double!


Try scored by Aaron Shelford. Conversion successful by Brad Keighran.

Eels lead 18-0

12min gone


Keighran injects himself from dummy half with a nice dart before Henry Rawalui (?) completes the set with a stab kick down the right edge. Blacktown finally get over halfway, their first possession to do so this game, and kick towards Haze Dunster who has a lapse in concentration and drops the uncontested bomb. Bad mistake right there.

Blacktown swing right then left, a block play to their fullback breaks down and stalls their play some what. Back to the right as they turn a backrower to the posts to bring up the last where they opt for a grubber kick. It is a real mess near the posts as it ricochets between players before a Worker dives on it and rolls over to score.


Try scored by Blacktown Workers. Conversion successful.

Blacktown trail 6-18

16min gone


Blacktown go wide early in the kickoff set and force Parry and Dunster to combine for an important tackle. They complete a respectable set with a deep bomb that Fonua defuses cleanly. Dunster is driven hard to ground as he fights for metres while Heleta follows him up with a good run. Alas, Haimona Hiroti produces an error on the 5th tackle. Big chance for Blacktown to narrow the lead to a single score here.

Holy Naiduki! The big Fijian winger makes a cracking tackle on his goal line to force an error and bring an end to the first quarter!

Parramatta resume play with possession following Naiduki’s defensive brilliance. Hard fought metres here before Makatoa weaves between defenders for a great run. Sam Hughes is on from the bench and gets his first run of the game as Shelford brings up the last after Rawalui turns him inside.

Ooph, hard contest for the ball from Rawalui’s kick and the Eels were perhaps lucky not to draw a penalty from the contest and then gain possession later in the set as the Workers produce an error in the play the ball.

Fonua has a nice run down the left edge but it all breaks down a couple of tackle later as a loose pass forces Parry to go compete for a sloppy scrimmage on the ground and he makes an error.

No flow in the game though as Blacktown make another error in the play the ball, gifting the Eels another attacking set in their half.

Here we go! Simple attacking play to the left edge from the scrum win as the Eels aim to isolate Naiduki against his opposite. The rampaging Fijian steps back inside and cuts through the sliding defence as he beats one, two and then three defenders to slam the ball over the line! Terrific run but more than a dash of questionable defence there.


Try scored by Solomone Naiduki. Conversion successful by Brad Keighran.

Eels lead 24-6

26min gone


Hughes keeps himself busy as the Eels push into Blacktown’s half but a poor kick from Rawalui lets the visitors off the hook. Workers alternate play between their left edge and the middle before weighting a perfect kick down their right edge that Fonua takes well but has no chance to take a single step further before he is buried into the in-goals.

Line drive drop out that rolls to the 45m mark. Blacktown aren’t throwing a great deal at the Eels through the course of their first five plays but they manage to force another repeat set when Fonua is wrong footed by a rushed kick and knocks on trying to pick up the kick.

The right edge of the Eels holds up for two plays in this set before a soft dive over attempt cracks them open. Fairly typical of this time of the year and the grade itself but none the less frustrating as always.


Try scored by Blacktown. Conversion successful.

Blacktown trail 12-24

34min gone


Some nifty work from Keighran sees him bat up a short pass from marker and then reclaiming it before it can hit the ground. He might not have been square mind you but it was a great play regardless. Rawalui turns Hughes inside to bring up the last where an ungodly mess of a play somehow produces a new set for the Eels. Rawalui hits Fonua on the block play but there is a wall of defenders in front of him and the fullback tries to kick through for himself only to have the ball regathered in the defensive line. Workers throw a risky pass that sees their winger bundled into touch.

A penalty comes from the scrum win for a late hit on Levido. 50/50 call there but the emphasis has been on protecting play makers I guess.

Hughes and El-Zakhem run the ball early in the set before Keighran is held up over the line. Makatoa brings the play to the left post for the last and Levido forces a line drop out with an excellent grubber. Good set rewarded there.

Hughes carts it up on the first tackle. Hiroti and Makatoa chalk up another run a piece, actually make that two for Hiroti but he makes another error in the tackle and that brings an end to the first half.


Half Time

Parramatta Eels 24 lead Blacktown Workers 12


Second Half


Parramatta receive the ball in the second half and claw their way to their 40m line before Levido drives a kick down the left edge. It is claimed on the full by Blacktown and they get underway in the second stanza only to sky a kick to the in-goals where Fonua marks it for a 7-tackle set.

Michael Cheer is on and has a nice carry as the young back shows some good acceleration. A swathe of interchanges for the second half actually. PJ Vaigualu, a prop, powers into the line but a couple of tackles later the Eels make a mistake and let the visitors off the hook.

Cheers is in the thick of things again as he flies after an errant pass from the Workers and helps force an error in the scramble for the pill.

The Eels are rewarded for the hustle as the next set sees Ethan Parry pinball his way over the line after he beats the initial defender and then cuts back against the sliding defence. Fonua was busy in that set as he popped up on both sides of the ruck.


Try scored by Ethan Parry. Conversion successful by Kyle Schneider.

Eels lead 30-12

49min gone


Great run by Hollis from the kickoff. Parry also has a good run and is unlucky not to draw a penalty. The Eels are rolling through the middle right up until the last where the bomb sails too deep and the Workers pick up an extended set.

And now the pendulum swings to Blacktown as Cheer can’t pull down a bomb and the Workers get a set on Parra’s 20m line.

Oh wow, lighting strike from no where! Rawalui scoops up a kick in the front line with some brilliant hands but the old warhorse doesn’t have the legs to go even half the distance! Allan Fitzgibbon, a new recruit by the way of Rugby 7s and Penrith lower grades if I am not mistaken, comes flying from no where on Rawalui’s right to take a pass, high step through a cover tackle and streak away for a sensational try against the run of play!


Try scored by Allan Fitzgibbon. Conversion successful by Kyle Schneider.

Eels lead 36-12

55min gone


Another strong set after points for the Eels as they power through the ruck and contest the midfield bomb via Ethan Parry who manages to get an error out of the Blacktown fullback.

Left then right for the Eels as Fonua magically loses the ball and then somehow regathers it before it hits a defender. Again, as with Cheer earlier, the hustle play is rewarded as Levido laces a perfect grubber kick through for a flying Rawalui who scores under the posts!


Try scored by Henry Rawalui. Conversion successful by Kyle Schneider.

Eels lead 42-12

59min gone


A penalty now to the Eels as they take a strangle hold on this trial. 30sec left in the third quarter as the Eels resume play and the buzzer rings out on the second tackle as Levido succumbs to the tackle.

Ooooh, nearly another try for the Eels there! They opt to run it on the last and at first it looks like Fonua has thrown a hail mary into the grandstands but he was right on the money as he finds Cheer who races 10m to seemingly score in the left corner! Alas he put a foot on the sideline as he looked to dive over and Blacktown and saved a round of blushes.

Sensational try saving tackle by Levido! He pushes far out wide to the left edge to wrap up the opposition winger in a tackle he had no rights to make. Fonua doesn’t let that effort down the next tackle as he swoops in to clean up a tough grubber kick and the madness comes to a close as time if blown off for an injured Worker.

Play resumes as the Workers aim up defensively, or at least they do early on in the set. The intensity crumbles as young backrower Charbel Tasipale smashes through on the right edge and races over halfway before choosing Rawalui from a bevy of options. The old man powers through the fatigue barrier to eke out the last 40m! Brilliant work from the young backrower and the old half.


Try scored by Henry Rawalui. Conversion successful by Kyle Schneider.

Eels lead 48-12

65min gone


Finally a mistake from the Eels as they fight over halfway. Blacktown immediately look to punch back as they break through the right edge of the Eels but Fonua makes a quality stop at the last line. The raid stalls on the goal line as Taspiale gobbles up a grubber kick and fights his way back to nearly the 20m mark.

Some real young blood on now as Jake Arthur and Sean Russel take the field. Russel gets his first senior level carry and does a pretty fair job!

An error from the Workers now and Arthur dives on the loose pill. Both young talents getting involved early on from the bench.

Could have been another one but Fitzgibbon grasses a near perfect cutout pass from Levido. Both substitute wingers have had some great and not so great moments.

Workers complete what feels like a rare set but Fonua is up to the challenge as the fields their bomb near the sideline on Parramatta’s left edge. The Eels pick up a penalty on the next play and Makatoa charges into the line as he continue an impressive game. Schneider has a run and Arthur steps into dummy half to cover for him as the Eels work to the right and that young man Arthur finds himself in the thick of things two tackles later as he floats a brilliant harbour bridge to a flying Fitzgibbon. No mistakes this time around as the young flanker secures possession and then storms through the cover defenders to score a great, great try!


Try scored by Allan Fitzgibbon. Conversion successful by Kyle Schneider.

Eels lead 54-12

75min gone


Oh dear, the first error of the day for Makatoa. He is lined up in the second rower slot from the kick off and the shanked kick finds its way to him and the bookend lets it slip between his hands.

Blacktown go on the attack as a result.

They spend multiple tackles trying to break through the left edge of the Eels before pivoting to the opposite side before ultimately grubbering to the posts. Bit of a of a mess of a contest but it looks like Jake Arthur managed to get across and bat it dead for a line drop out.

Fiztgibbon saves a bit of face for Parry as the young centre is fended off only for the winger to step across and make the try saver. Fonua is on hand once again to tidy up the last tackle kick as he builds on a really positive second half and the Eels end up completing their set on halfway as Levido drives a low kick through.

Last set for Blacktown and they can only chip over the defensive line and let Fonua round out a terrific effort with one final clean up effort at the back.


Full Time

Parramatta Eels 54 defeat Blacktown Workers 12

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Thanks lads for the blog. I missed the pre-game show. How are the conditions?


Superb conditions Grant. Field was immaculate. Mild, overcast, slight breeze, and mostly dry. Ideal for footy.

Colin Hussey

Thanks Forty for the work and time involved in this blog. There’s names there that are an unknown to me and likely many others but its an encouraging start for this season, one could readily see these games as not providing a lot of an idea of how the side will go when the main fun starts, but for me it gets them involved to the point of playing against another team and while a trial its also a key start. Would love a mini run down on the players in the team and how many of the Blacktown team… Read more »


Colin, there’s a few ex Parra boys at
Blacktown, but we didn’t have their team sheet. This was an incredibly cohesive display by a Parra team from various backgrounds – Flegg, NRL full time, and second tier contracts. Ryan Carr has made an impressive start to his career at Parra.


Thanks for the blog, couldn’t make the game but enjoyed your report.


Cheers DDay

Paul taylor

Good report guys. We sounded like a very dominant fit football team . Pleasing only 12 points against . Know it is Canterbury cup but pressure to perform is across the whole club . Anyone who wears the blue and gold in fact.

Anyone stand out like “ how good is That bloke “


In terms of unheralded players, I really liked the form of Makatoa at prop. He has impressed in a couple of opposed sessions against the NRL too. Shelford had an outrageous start to the game, and Keighran was solid during the first half, and Levido looked confident at half. Apart from a couple of early errors, Johnny Fonua was very good at fullback. Thought our young Flegg players like Hollis, Hughes, Schneider, Tasipale, Arthur and Russell gave us plenty to smile about with regard to the 20s comp, as well as their future as players. To be honest, I could… Read more »


Allan Fitzgibbon also impressed me, not only for his unbelievable speed. He rucked it out a couple of times and made a crucial tackle on the line. Will be interesting to track his progress across the year, hopefully more games in CC than not.


You can’t create speed like his. You can improve it, but he looked in a class of his own pace-wise when he looked up in support of Henry R then accelerated away from the chasers.


Great work Sixties, really appreciate the coverage. Can’t wait until the season kicks off.


Nice first outing for CC squad players .


Great call Forty20 and Sixties. I can confirm you were certainly at the same game as me last night. Filling in the gaps where names avoided me and body befuddled me. (like ex fullback/halfback, Henry Rawailli) all 100kgs of him, I had no idea who this barnstorming edge forward was until I read your call Forty. I could not for the life of me recall the names of our two big whitey props when questioned by a fellow fan on the hill who’d come up from Ashbury to watch his son have a gallop in the backrow coming back from… Read more »


Sam Hughes in 15 Rowdy. He found his front in every carry, ensuring a quick play the ball. The forwards laid a tremendous platform all game.

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