The Cumberland Throw

Eels 2021 Junior Reps – Notes From The Penrith Trial

It’s not really footy weather, but with the NSWRL Junior Representative Program due to kick off on February 6, it means January trials.

The Eels Harold Matts and SG Ball squads concluded their season preparations with a clash at Windsor Sporting Complex against the powerful Penrith Panthers.

If you want to gauge how your pathways players are measuring up, just organise a trial against the Riff. The Eels western Sydney rivals are always thereabouts with their junior rep teams.

With the Tarsha Gale girls team in action simultaneously at Moorebank against the Dogs, this report will feature just the Matts and Ball. In good news for coach Ryan Walker, the Parra Tarsha Gale team registered a 16 to 12 win over the Dogs.

I’m not in Forty20’s class as a live blogger, so I present these notes to you the following day. They were taken live on the night.

Harold Matts

Kick off 5:30 pm

The Squad

1 Spence 2 Sinclair 3 Guymer 4 Murray 5 Lealaiauloto 6 Lafai 7 Sanders 8 Mino 9 Ayache 25 Tuivati 11Rafaele De Stradis 12 Pryke 23 John

Bench: 10 Lokeni 14 Talagi 15Aho 16 Penisini 18 Alameddine 19 Galvin

My apologies if I’ve missed any players or misspelt any names.

*First Period:

Early territorial advantage to the Panthers with repeat sets but the Eels hold them out with good defence.  Eventually the mounting pressure is too much and a clever grubber kick behind the Eels line is regathered by the Panthers chaser for a try out wide. A superb conversion gives them a 6 nil lead.

Impressive second phase footy from prop forward Mino sets up a shift to the left and the Eels reply comes through Guymer in the left corner. The ball passes through some hands before the centre crosses in the left hand corner. The conversion is unsuccessful and the teams go to the first break (game played in thirds) with Penrith leading 6-4.

* Second Period:

The Panthers commence the scoring with a try just to the left of the posts. It was a slight variation on the outside/inside play catching the defenders on the wrong foot. Another successful conversion and the mountain lads skip out to a 12-4 lead.

Possession is now heavily in favour of the Panthers via repeat sets, and the penalty count is very lopsided. Sustained pressure in the Eels half eventually takes its toll and Penrith cross again out wide. The conversion is missed but the lead is substantial as the teams go into the second break with the Eels behind by 16-4.

* Final Period

The Eels have come out with all guns blazing and open the scoring with a try to Murray after a tremendous kick chase. The conversion is again unsuccessful but the lead has been reduced to 8 points – Panthers 16 lead Parra 8.

Oh no!!! A certain try is missed by the Eels after a kick and regather sees the ball lost as it’s being grounded over the line. Let’s hope that’s not too costly.

Lafai!!! An incredible individual try from the Eels pivot as he steps, jinks, weaves his way through the defence to score next to the posts. This is going to the wire with the conversion narrowing the gap to just two points with time running out on the clock. It’s a 16-14 score line to the Panthers, but all of the momentum is with the Eels.

The Eels on the attack

What a finish. It’s the last possession and the last tackle is called for the Eels on the halfway mark. They’re running it! The line’s been broken and the players are streaming through in support. And it’s Galvin who takes the last pass to cross under the posts.

The conversion is successful and Parra takes the lead 20 to 16. And that’s full time in a highly entertaining match played in the right spirit between two great rivals.

That’s a draw and a win from two trials for Steve O’Dea’s charges.

He has some willing workers and impact players in his pack, plenty of options/possible combinations for the spine and strike power out wide. I was particularly impressed by the back rowers De Stradis and Pryke in this trial. These fellas were relentless in defence.

My man of the match was centre Charlie Guymer. This bloke troubles the defence with most carries.

It will be interesting to see who wins selection at fullback. Spence is busy and very reliable. There’s no mistaking his intent carrying the footy on kick returns – it’s straight and uncompromising.

The other option is Aho. This mountain of footballer was first introduced to followers as a winger. However, injected into last night’s  game as a fullback, he threatened to bust the game open with every charge. He could be an x-factor.

Young Talagi also presents as a selection quandary. Better known in the halves, he seemed to be playing at lock when brought off the bench, but played like a third half in this game. Given the form of Sanders and Lafai, O’Dea might opt for a three pronged playmaker attack.

SG Ball

Kick off 7pm

The Squad

1 Forsythe  2 Coroneos  3 Fekito 4 Kalache 5 Nevili  6 Chappell 7 Bray 8 Parker 9 Lloyd 10 Muala 11 Brazel 12 Tupou  13 Jankovic

Bench: 14 Wright-Dunrobbin 15 Ngati 16 Parker 17 Mafoa 18 Reardon 20 Lenaz No number Lemusu 22 Wolfgram 23 Wright 24 Tuitino 25 Muagututia

* First Period

There’s a sense of déjà vu as the Panthers score first after a glut of early possession. The Eels concede consecutive penalties as the ref takes them to task literally from the kick off. Parra don’t adjust to Penrith’s ball movement and the home side cross out wide. The conversion takes the Panthers to a 6 nil lead after just a few minutes.

So close! Fekito drops the ball in contact over the line after being put into space by Chappell. But the Eels don’t have to wait too long to rectify that error with Parker charging back into the ruck and proving too strong for the defence. The conversion by Chappell is successful and the teams are locked at 6 all.

The Panthers are mounting wave after wave of attack and the Eels keep turning them away. A courageous 30 metre run from Brazel off the line looks to ease the pressure but the ball comes loose in the collision. The Riff return the favour by turning the ball over after the scrum.

And it’s Parra who’s next to trouble the scorer as Drew Lloyd darts out of dummy half close to the line and crosses about 10 metres to the left of the post. The conversion from Chappell hits the upright and the Eels go to the first break with a 10-6 lead.

* Second Period

Big Lemusu is on the field and he makes his presence felt with a crashing run towards the posts which yields the first try after the break.

Chappell’s conversion takes the Eels out to a 16 to 6 lead.

If there’s one thing that Penrith’s opposition need to know it’s that you never invite them back into any game. Unfortunately the Eels come up with an error close to the line and a scrum move from the Panthers sees them crossing in the corner and winding the game back to a 6 point margin. The missed conversion leaves the Eels leading 16 to 10.

Terrific stuff here! Back rower Brazel receives the ball on the left edge close to the line but with a bit of work to do to crash through defenders and ground the ball. His try and the conversion from Chappell takes the  score out to a 12 point margin at the second break – Eels 22 – Panthers 10.

* Final Period

Coach Brennan has made a multitude of changes as his bench players are given their opportunity to shine. Unfortunately ball control is proving an issue.

And Penrith soon capitalise as the Eels cough up possession in four consecutive sets after the break. At 22 -16 it’s game on!

Jock Brazel has been moved to left centre and he seems to have shifted momentum with an intercept. The ball now goes through hands to the right in the Penrith red zone. Make that five consecutive incomplete sets – the ball has again been lost.

Make that 6 sets…

Strike that, we’re up to 7!

I’d like to know the possession rate, because the referee is finding infringements to compound Parra’s errors. But these young Parra blokes are not short on effort. Despite literally camping in the Eels half, Penrith just can’t convert their territorial and possession advantage.

And that’s full time. The Eels have taken the honours in this trial with a 22 to 16 victory.

The Eels march downfield

That’s now two wins from two trials for coach Craig Brennan and his team. Trials they may be, but both have been against traditionally strong western Sydney rivals and the manner of the wins has given Brennan some cause for optimism.

Ignoring the errors prevalent in the final period, the players seem to follow the coach’s structures and instructions to the tee.

The defence has been outstanding in both trials – conceding no tries against the Dogs and just three tries to the Panthers despite the disparity in possession. Not only are they well organised and communicative in the line, it appears to be the team mantra to make a statement with every tackle.

Halves Chappell and Bray combine well, with their different skill sets complementing each other. Last week, Bray (who I believe has played representative touch footy) displayed his running game, and Chappell his game management. This week it was not unusual to see Bray get some early ball to Chappell who was doing a great job of taking the ball to the line in setting up his runners.

Chappell, along with back rower Brazel, were my picks as best on field. Brazel made an impression both with and against the ball – and it looks like he can play long minutes.

Brennan also has options at dummy half, with Lloyd starting at 9 and the versatile Jankovic wearing the 13. Each has legitimate claims to be the specialist dummy half.

I’m not going to put the spotlight on too many other players because they function so well as a unit. The early signs are that the players know their role, and the structures suit the players’ strengths.

The young blokes have probably given the coach some headaches – the good kind!

Eels forever!


If you liked this article, you might consider supporting The Cumberland Throw.
Notify of

newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Wanted to go to game always good to see parramatta beating panthers. But your report felt like I was there.


No worries I use to go often to watch junior rep games. May go from time to time this year . Thanks again for your rundown of the game .


Yeah Sixties. No one has the live blogging skills of 40/twenty and I can tell you if watching it reproduced on your app doesn’t leave you wondering how he is able to do that? Well let me share this experience then. I’ve watched 40 do this live with laptop on lap. How he gets current action into such meticulous print is worthy of an award, but I doubt that there any representatives of a screen writers guild who have seen this man move. If forty20 had the same skills in his feet and legs as he does in his fingers… Read more »

John Eel

I have to concur with Rowdy on this one. One night at an away game at ANZ I found myself sitting next to Forty. In between punching commentary into the laptop he was conducting analysis with Hamish. All the while fielding dumb questions from me. I was gobsmacked at his ability to do so many things at the same time and also that he does it with speed and precision. Just for the record I am pretty sure that Twal and Fuimaono (spelling) played for the Eels NYC that evening Sixties enjoyed your report as always and always great to… Read more »


Oh yeah, good report on the the juniors reps Sixties.
I saw there was a Penisi named one the bench for HM’s? Is he a relo of Villiame the wonder boy from the Kings School?

Jpe Briffa

Hi mate it was almost like old times sitting along side your good self with parra thru and thru and ham boy i don’t know how you could identify the players the lighting wasn’t the greatest and the markings on the field i could only tell that they scored when team mates cheered. See you in a couple of weeks for the start of the juniors comps, and a job well done


Thank you so much for these junior rep reports. There’s isn’t another club in the league that gets this sort of in depth coverage for lower grades and it really cements TCT as the premier supporter site on the net!!
As an aside has there been any updates with the Flegg squad such as upcoming trials?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x