The Cumberland Throw

NRLW Preview – Round 3, 2023: Eels vs Knights

The grand final rematch is finally here!

Three weeks into the new season, the two sides kick off the BGA Reunion Day on Sunday in front of Eels home fans keen to watch a win.

Newcastle lost their last match against the Cowboys, with Kirra Dibb taking control of the game against her old team to secure the new franchise’s first win in the NRLW.

Meanwhile, the Eels struggled against the Dragons, going down 38-12 in a worrying performance.

Supporters will be looking for Parra to be inspired by a clash against their grand final opponents, and hoping that the big occasion finally ignites their season.

Despite having six rounds remaining after this week, Sunday’s game will be the Eels last appearance at CommBank Stadium.

Game Info:

Date: Sunday, August 6, 2023

Venue: CommBank Stadium, Parramatta 

Kick-off: 12:03 PM AEST

Referee: Belinda Sharpe

Broadcast: Channel Nine and Foxtel

Live Stream – Kayo & Nine Now


Parramatta Eels 

1. Abbi Church 2. Zali Fay 3. Mahalia Murphy 4. Cassey Tohi-Hiku 5. Monique Donovan 6. Pihuka Berryman-Duff 7. Rosemarie Beckett 8. Talesha O’Neill 9. Rueben Cherrington 10. Ruby-Jean Kennard-Ellis 11. Amelia Mafi 12. Shontelle Stowers 13. Kennedy Cherrington 14. Capri Paekau 15. Nakia Davis-Welsh 16. Shannon Muru 17. Madeline Jones 

18. Tyla Amiatu 19. Kyra Simon 20. Kimberley Hunt 21. Kelsey Clark 22. Elsie Albert 

Abbi Church

The Eels are struggling for any form, but Dean Widders has shown faith in his charges by naming the same team that couldn’t keep pace with the Dragons in Round 2.

Fans will be encouraged by Elsie Albert’s name appearing on the reserves list, but we will most likely not see her or Rachael Pearson in the starting lineup until next week. 

If the finals remain the goal for this team, they need to turn everything around quickly. Their defensive struggles have been the great concern and probably weren’t on the radar after the trial. Last season, cheap penalties were the main source of momentum for their opponents.

The middle third has been indecisive, putting pressure on the edge defence as opponents become more expansive in attack. Like the NRL squad, getting a win is vital this weekend. The next six weeks on the road will not be easy.

Newcastle Knights 

1. Tamika Upton 2. Sheridan Gallagher 3. Shanice Parker 4. Abigail Roache 5. Jasmin Strange 6. Georgia Roche 7. Jesse Southwell 8. Rima Butler 9. Olivia Higgins 10. Simone Karpani 11. Caitlan Johnston 12. Yasmin Clydsdale 13. Hannah Southwell 14. Nita Maynard 15. Kayla Romaniuk 16. Laishon Albert-Jones 17. Tayla Prebedon 

18. Fellia Kia 19. Tiana Davidson 20. Jayde Herdegen 21. Tamerah Leati 22. Macie Carlile 

Hannah Southwell returns for her first game of the season, whilst Georgia Roche will make her debut at five-eighth next to Jessie Southwell.

Expect Hannah to bring both energy and physicality, driving the Knights attack.

Georgia Roche is an English international hailing from the Leeds Rhinos in the Women’s Super League competition. Roche is very good at changing direction without losing pace. She’s most dangerous close to the try-line, concealing her true intentions. The Eels need to watch out for her dummy and run play.

Jesse Southwell’s game-management and kicking skills will complement Roche’s confident running game. The star half is also renowned as an elusive quick stepper with some pundits comparing her all round game to the likes of Andrew Johns.

Expect the Knights playmakers to ask numerous questions of the Eels red zone defence.

The Forwards Define This Game

The old adage about forwards winning games is as true in the NRLW as it is in the NRL.

This is where the Eels can lay the platform to victory despite missing key players.

Parra looked to Talesha O’Neill and Kennedy Cherrington’s to win the middle against an aggressive Dragons line, but they needed more players to roll up their sleeves to get the job done.



Without Elsie Albert, the Eels edge forwards must get more involved. Amelia Mafi and Madeline Jones have shown glimpses of what they can offer and Rose Beckett will be looking for them to get the Knights on the back foot so that she can get more quality touches in offence.

Against a full strength Knights outfit, the Eels will need to start strong and stick to their recipe. That means getting good early yardage from the back five, followed up by line bending runs from the forwards. Without the long kicking game of Pearson, it’s imperative that they advance the ball well into Knights territory before looking for last tackle kicks from their halves.

Can Beckett Impress Again?

Despite last week’s result, the rookie halfback validated the wraps on her with a mature performance. Beckett nailed a 40/30 kick, provided a try-assist, and looked dangerous on the right edge.

Rose Beckett

The Dragons sent plenty of traffic her way, which was to be expected. It was all part of the learning experience of an NRLW debut.

It will be another tough assignment against the young and talented Jesse Southwell, but Beckett will be sure to embrace the opportunity.

The Chances of An Upset

Despite losing the first two games, the Eels have a chance to make some noise in this game. Getting revenge against the Premiers must be on their minds, regardless of how many girls are missing from that grand final squad. 

Will they beat themselves again? It’s a solid chance of happening as inexperience and new combinations can mean more errors. A 70 minute performance with all players contributing is essential.

The Eels must take control early and find greater line speed and aggression in defence. If they do the basics well, they’ll put themselves in a better position to apply pressure on the Knights.

Sometimes one win is all that it takes to get on a roll. 

Prediction: Parramatta by 2

Player of the Game: Abbi Church

Kye Ferreira


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