A chance for history beckons for our Tarsha Gale as they not only play their first ever finals game, they play for a berth in the grand final itself. Ryan Walker and Ruby Jean Kennard have led this team brilliantly as they built from a tough campaign in 2021 and the results have been truly outstanding. The Eels finished the regular season in 2nd place with just one loss to their name and even that came to the minor premiers and the team they are bidding to play against in the grand final in the Sydney Roosters Indigenous Academy.
In order to book that spot though they need to defeat the Newcastle Knights first and that massive game kicks off at 5:00PM.
Tarsha Gale Team List
1. Debbie Doueihi
2. Tamerah Leati
3. Jacinta Tui
4. Petesa Lio
5. Alysha Bell
6. Tallara Bamblett
7. Rosemarie Beckett
8. Petalina Atoa
9. Ashlee Pottinger
10. Ruby-Jean Kennard (c)
11. Tahleisha Maeva
12. Kyanna Lokeni
13. Summah Terare
16. Chelsee Steele
17. Katalina Vave
20. Lei-Lani Tua
The Eels will be kicking off to start this game. Alysha Bell to get us underway.
Strong first up tackle from Atoa! Really physical defence from the Blue & Gold to open this contest. In reply Parra are methodical as they work into Newcastle’s half but as they venture down their left for the first time this game it all takes a wicked turn. Rosemarie Beckett looks to fire a cutout pass to the far left but Mia Middleton has spied it out perfectly as she lurks waiting for the intercept. She plucks the ball out of the air and despite a spirited effort from the Eels, she proves to be too quick as she surges downfield to score out wide. Brutal run against the play there.
Try scored by Mia Middleton. Conversion successful by Sophie Clancy.
Knights lead 6-0
The run of play continues to fall Newcastle’s way as Parramatta are penalised for slowing down the ruck. The Knights don’t make many metres from the touch finder but the fresh set of tackles keeps them in the box seat after the opening points of the game. They wander from right to left through this set but the Eels account for it well before they claim a bouncing bomb on the last via Rosemarie Beckett.
They quickly receive a penalty as they defence is ruled offside and suddenly they find a foothold early in this contest.
Tap and go from midfield as they rumble up the guts with Kennard. Pottingers turns Maeva underneath for a good gain before the props interlink as Kennard puts Atoa over the advantage line. Beckett sends it up on the last and Jacinta Tui claims it on the full but the defence quickly engulf here for a turnover on tackles.
Plenty of strong hits through the ruck for the Eels but the Knights are also producing some good carries through that middle corridor with their outside backs. Their clearing kick finds grass and sends Doueihi back but she tidies it up with a neat kick return. Simple set for the Eels as they play it through Beckett on the last once again. She kicks towards Alyssa Shoulders of the Knights who takes it easily and beats the first chasers for a solid gain.
Nice intercept by Petesa Lio! She has plucked an offload out of the air and then immediately picks up a penalty as the ruck is slowed down. The Eels want the quick tap and Lio seemingly is on the mark but he calls it back for whatever reason.
Touchfinder sees Lokeni resume play. Kennard steams into the line on the second tackle before Pottinger jumps out of dummy half. Left now as Bamlett and Beckett combine before Doueihi takes it into the line. Maeva crashes over the line from dummy half but it held up so we come out 10m for the next play. Beckett bombs it to the right this time and it pays off! Kasey Gaukroger under huge pressure as Lio and Bell fly in on the chase and she spills it on the line! Petesa Lio patiently waits for a friendly bounce and scoops up the ball to put the Eels on the board!
Try scored by Petesa Lio. Conversion unsuccessful by Alysha Bell.
Eels trail 4-6
Oh no. Confusion from the kickoff as the Eels allow a squib kick to roll into touch. It looks like Lokeni and Lio weren’t sure who was meant to attack the bouncing ball and thus the Knights get a scrum feed.
Newcastle build from left to right here. Short passes between forwards throughout but the Eels maintain the integrity of their line. The Eels do extremely well to effect a 1-on-1 strip but the ref has called an extraordinarily late offside penalty there. Not sure about that at all but it leaves Parramatta with a huge task.
Great hustle from the defence throughout the repeat set as they force the attacking kick on the last. Lio loses it backwards as Bell cleans it up but the ball comes out in the following tackle. The Eels are blowing up, presumably for a strip but the referee signals it is a scrum feed for the Knights.
Great tackle from Lio off the scrum before Atoa and Pottinger combine on tackle two. Newcastle shift to their right where the locks meet in a big collision and the left edge defence of the Eels stands tall on the next tackle as they bulldoze Shoulders into touch! What a defensive stand!
A surging carry from Bamblett sees her break a tackle and link up with Maeva to take the Eels over halfway. Beckett completes the set nicely with a clearing kick to the right and Parramatta are right back into the territorial battle as a result.
Gee some risky offloading for the Knights ends up benefiting them but it just as easily could have fallen to the Eels. It sets them up for an attacking bomb but Debbie Doueihi takes it perfectly and saws on a nice 10m return.
Simple stuff for Parramatta in reply as they punch it up the guts before Lio earns another penalty. This time she is allowed to tap and go and she rips another 12m off before the Blue & Gold go wide left to Leati. She in turn steps off her left and sorties back in field sucking it a stack of defenders before she is tackled. It leaves the right edge of Newcastle completely stripped for numbers and you better bet that Pottinger and Beckett know it. They attack that side immediately and ruthlessly as Beckett plays it to Tui who holds it up and puts her backrower Maeva over out wide!
Try scored by Tahleisha Maeva. Conversion unsuccessful by Alysha Bell.
Eels lead 8-6
Lokeni claims the bouncing kickoff this time before Kennard powers through big time post contact metres. Lokeni comes back for a big gain of her own. Bamblett turns Vave back inside to some offside defenders as the metres flow untapped for the Eels. Bamblett runs it to the line and drills it low on the last and it produces a knock on in the front line! Big break there for Parramatta and a chance to really take control of this match now with 3min left in the half.
Bamblett feeds the scrum but Quye breaks to the left. Left again for Beckett who is dragged down a metres short! Messy pass from the ruck undoes some momentum but Pottinger centres the ball to give the Eels options on the next tackle. Kennard goes one more to the posts and Beckett rolls it along the ground on the last and again it leads to a Newcastle knock on! A bit over a minute left on the clock here as the Eels look to build this lead.
Beckett feeding this set piece. A nice worked play puts Lio into half a gap but the cover defence arrives in time to stop her crossing. Two plays right before they come back left as Beckett is tackled. Time left for one two plays but the Knights stand tall and make the turnover on tackles.
Turns out the clock is wrong and there was time for the Knights to play out a handful of tackles but they aren’t interested in any sort of expansive play so that will do us for the first 30min.
Parramatta Eels 8 lead the Newcastle Knights 6
Second half commences with the Knights kicking off. Beckett sends Terare into the kick chasers to start the half. Right to Vave who gets in behind the ruck for a good carry. Right again to Pottinger who is playing in the hybrid lock role and she earns a penalty as is up in a flash to tap and go! Another penalty quickly follows and that would have to be close to sin bin consideration but the referee is happy to just play on. Scintillating stuff early in this set as Bamblett puts Doueihi through a gap and the fullback looks to link up with Bell but the pass is astray and comes of Bell’s legs allowing the Knights to recover it.
A penalty then falls to Newcastle, helping them out of their own half. The attacking kick in the following set comes along the grass this time and Doueihi is all class as he scoops it up and bumps off the leading kick chaser. A terrific carry out of dummy half from tui takes the Eels into Newcastle’s half and Beckett laces an excellent kick to trap the Knights 10m off their line.
Gaukroger splits the Eels up the guts to put the Knights on the attack but Doueihi cuts her down at the last line. The Novocastrians build from right to left but come down the right edge shortside on the last. They try to roll it along the ground but it hits a defender while it isn’t played at and from the second kick there is an offside chaser so the Eels escape the earlier line break unscathed.
Tough carry from Atoa before Maeava runs and offloads to Bamblett for a strong gain. Beckett again traps the Knights on their line with a tricky kick back against the flow of play. Tough set for the Knights here as they come off their line. The Eels were about to force them to kick from inside 40m before a late ruck penalty changes the complexion of the set completely.
A bit of arm grabbing around the ruck here for the Eels. They need to muscle up. Bell makes a beautiful one-on-one tackle down the right sideline as the Knights throw an expansive cut out pass and the kick on the last is a shocker as it is drilled dead by miles.
7-tackle set for the Eels and a weaving run from Doueihi not only picks up plenty of metres but also a penalty for a hair pull from a defender.
Tui goes to Maeva on the first. Eels work from left to right as Beckett plays at the line to Pottinger. Right again as Bamblett holds it up nicely for Lio. Pottinger centres the ball before Quye channels a bit of Reed Mahoney to play across the face from dummy half to put her captain Ruby Jean Kennard over under the posts! Huge moment for the Eels after absorbing some big swings towards the Knights.
Try scored by Ruby-Jean Kennard. Conversion successful by Alysha Bell.
Eels lead 14-6
Miscued kick from Newcastle as Kennard claims it very shallowly. Parramatta have the running here as Steele surges into Newcastle territory before Beckett turns Maeva back inside. Tidy finish to this set as Beckett kicks to the left and the Knights regather the ball metres off their line.
The Knights throw caution to the wind as they shift the ball with wild abandon but the cover defence of the Eels is right there before Tui gets a great kick return back to halfway. Doueihi and Tui take the next two charges before Lio comes infield for a look of her own. Sensational ruck work from Kennard sets the Eels up on the last but Quye’s pass is a wormburner that forces Beckett back. She picks it up and rushes a kick but it is charged down by Matilda Jones and taken by the Knights.
A penalty follows for Newcastle and Alysha Bell nearly makes a crazy play to intercept the touchfinder with an open run to the line! She barely fails to bring the ball in but no worries as the Knights drop it cold on the second tackle.
Right to Lio from the scrum as she plunders good metres again. Steele up next and she offloads to Quye who stuttersteps her way to a neat gain. Kennard next before the shift to the left comes. Maeava tramples through defenders enroute to the line but is pulled down. One more to the left before the last where Beckett finds the grass with a stabbed bomb. The swarming kick chase of the Eels forces a line drop out!
Terare traps a rolling drop kick 10m out and brings it in nicely. Great coordination there. An early right edge shift for the Knights puts Bell into a sliver of space and she guns it for the corner but the cover defence arrive as she reaches out and she loses the ball by the barest of margins. Good hustle from the Knights.
They go on to pick up a ruck penalty to put them on the attack for the first time in quite a while. They start the set down their right edge but play is quickly called to a stop as Tahleisha Maeva stays on the ground due to what looks like a head clash.
She eventually finds her feet and will stay out there for now. A big left edge shift from the Knights comes from the resumption of play. Tui looks to have forced an error against her opposite but the initial contact was too high and instead of a turnover we get a penalty. It proves pivotal for Newcastle as their dummy half Sophie Clancy crashes over from short range to put the Knights right back into this contest.
Try scored by Sophie Clancy. Conversion successful by Sophie Clancy.
Knights trail 12-14
We are in for a huge finish to this one. Bell drives the kick downfield but Middleton gives the Knights a strong platform to build off from tackle one. They enter Parramatta territory with tackles to spare care of a huge carry from Mercydes Metcalf and it sets up a raid down their right as Middleton steps between defenders to somehow touch down in the corner amidst the attention of three defenders. What a play and it leaves the Eels hunting for the lead in the championship moments of this game.
Try scored by Mia Middleton. Conversion unsuccessful by Sophie Clancy.
Knights lead 16-14
The Knights spill it backwards. The Eels need to force something here and Beckett does! One-on-one strip! Here we go. Sloppy stuff to start this set though as fatigue takes it toll on the Eels. Lio settles things before Lokeni has a carry. Right to Beckett on the last but the grubber kick is claimed by Watters in the field of play. Just over 2min left to reclaim the lead now.
There is a bizarre late call for a penalty with no one on the ruck and extraordinarily late. That might do it for the Knights.
Beckett makes another one-on-one strip! But it means the Eels have to travel 90m in 40sec. Tui up first before Tua has a run. Pottinger has a nice run and should have drawn a penalty but the ref isn’t interested. It all falls apart on the last as Bamblett is pressured from a poor pass and the Knights dive on the loose ball. That will do us today as unfortunately the Eels bow out from the finals after an incredible campaign. They will be left to rue a sloppy final quarter play as a spirited Newcastle Knights outfit challenged them in every facet but it shouldn’t take the shine off a monstrously improved program for the Eels.
Newcastle Knights 16 defeat the Parramatta Eels 14.