The Cumberland Throw

NRLW Preview – Round 5, 2023: Raiders vs Eels

The theme of this season has been potential that doesn’t keep its promise. The Eels, struggling to find a win this season, are on the road to Canberra for their clash with a firing Raiders squad.

The Raiders sit in third position and just scraped by the Dragons with a game-winning field goal in golden point, clinching the match 19-18 in Wollongong.

Meanwhile, the Eels showed some promise in their clash against the Broncos. Unfortunately they still continued their losing ways, going down 22-12 after being unable to get the job done in a surging second half.

Defensively, the Eels remain too passive and the dive into their depth chart is starting to replicate their NRL counterparts.

Game Info:

Date: Sunday, August 20, 2023

Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra

Kick-off: 1:45 PM AEST 

Referee: Kasey Badger 

Senior Review Official: Wyatt Raymond 

Broadcast: Channel Nine and Foxtel

Live Stream: Kayo & Nine Now


Canberra Raiders

1. Api Nicholls 2. Madison Bartlett 3. Cheyelle Robins-Reti 4. Alanna Dummett 5. Shakiah Tungai 6. Zahara Temara 7. Ashleigh Quinlan 8. Tommaya Kelly-Sines 9. Chanté Temara 10. Sophie Holyman 11. Elsie Smith 17. Monalisa Soliola 13. Simaima Taufa 14. Ua Ravu 15. Grace Kemp 16. Kerehitiina Matua 19. Ahlivia Ingram 

18. Petesa Lio 20. Ella Ryan 

The Raiders initially named Hollie-Mae Dodd in number 12, with reasons for the late decision to rule her out being unknown. 

Simaima Taufa will be playing her former club, after leading the Eels forward pack for their first two seasons.

Expect Taufa to continue her quality play, backing up from her game against the Dragons where she scored a try, ran 197 metres with 36 post-contact metres, along with making 45 tackles.


Ahlivia Ingram, a 22-year-old Canberra local who played in the inaugural Tarsha Gale team in 201, will make her NRLW debut off the bench. 

Ingram plays front-row and has also represented the First Nation’s Gems at the 2022 National Championships before being selected to take part in a five-week NRLW Indigenous Women’s Academy at the AIS mid-year.

The debutante was also selected in the Australian PM’s XIII team that played against PNG last September and was also part of the Indigenous Women’s All-Stars team earlier this year. 

Ingram brings a lot of physicality and toughness and in a very good Canberra squad, will complement the starting front-rower.

Parramatta Eels

1. Abbi Church 2. Zali Fay 3. Kimberley Hunt 4. Cassey Tohi-Hiku 5. Monique Donovan 6. Pikhua Berryman-Duff 7. Rachael Pearson 8. Talesha O’Neill 9. Rueben Cherrington 10. Madeline Jones 11. Amelia Mafi 12. Mahalia Murphy 15. Tyla Amiatu 14. Capri Paekau 16. Shannon Muru 17. Nakia Davis-Welsh 19. Ruby-Jean Kennard-Ellis 

18. Taneka Todhunter 21. Lindsay Tui

Kyra Simon’s absence brings Tyla Amiatu into the starting lineup at lock forward with Ruby-Jean Kennard-Ellis joining the bench. Amiatu was most impressive in her round 4 debut.

Elsie Albert re-injured her troublesome calf last week, so the Eels depth continues to be tested.

Battle of the halfbacks

Former Eels halfback, Ash Quinlan, has been a good pick up for the Raiders. With two try assists and three line breaks this season, her reads and playmaking ability have been to instrumental in establishing Canberra as a finals contender.

Pearson in action for the Blues

Rachael Pearson had a rusty debut in the Blue and Gold, with her kicking game failing to gain any territorial advantage for her team. I expect her to improve on last rounds 236 kick metres this week.

An effective kicking game will be essential in shutting down Canberra’s classy fullback, Api Nicholls.


The Rise of Tyla Amiatu 

Tyla Amiatu’s energy off the bench brought life to an Eels pack reeling from injuries. Her charges through the ruck created havoc against the experienced Broncos forwards.

The promising Eels forward had 112 running metres, with 59 post-contact metres and five tackle breaks.

The former St Agnes Catholic High student was a graduate of the Dragon’s Tarsha Gale team and also has a rugby 7s background. Her powerful running style has provided Eels recruitment with a big tick amongst some recent criticism. It will be fascinating to see her development across the remainder of this season.

Eels Essentials

For all of the improvement in Parra’s performance last week, especially in defence, the errors in yardage literally made winning impossible.

Mistakes have been costly every season so unless Parra can find the magic elixir for completions, victories will remain hard to find.

Throw in a more effective kicking game on that “to do” list.


The Eels have improved, but still have a long way to go. In contrast the Raiders are playing a strong brand of footy similar to the unorthodox style of the New Zealand Warriors in the NRL.

Result: Raiders by 10+

Player of the Game: Api Nicholls 

Kye Ferreira


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17 thoughts on “NRLW Preview – Round 5, 2023: Raiders vs Eels

  1. sixties

    The draw is ridiculous.Two home games this year. Five home games across three seasons. Raiders get five home games in their first season! Hopefully, when Kellyville COE is eventually built, there can be home games staged there.

    1. Clive

      The draw is a farce mate but seriously the rosters assembled by the Eels in all senior grades are diabolical.

  2. B&G 4Eva

    Wouldn’t like to be MON near my better half, she is more than annoyed that 90% of the players she liked in NRLW are elsewhere and games she was looking forward to are tough to watch.
    To cap it all off, when she realised that Dom Young has effectively left the Knights and the Eels didn’t go in for him, she is ticked off, with the statement if I can see how good he would be, why didn’t we make him a big offer it’s not as if we have anyone that good .
    That’s probably the conversation in a lot of supporters homes currently.

    1. Spark

      Dom Young was always going to the Roosters. They never miss out on players they want due to the benefits they can offer.
      You think he’s good, wait till you see Lewis Murphy in action. He’s the player they have picked up from Wakefield in the UK. He’s a Martin Offiah clone, fast as lightning.
      Murphy and Young will be their wingers next year and they will move wonder boy to Rugby.
      The Eels were never in the ball park and probably didn’t want to be wasting their time.

  3. Tanky

    Just watched the game very impressed with the girls never give up attitude they had a a never die go shame it wasn’t enough

    1. sixties

      It’s all we can ask from players who take the field – if they are selected they give it everything.

    2. Spark

      I thought they were great. They really gave their all and deserved the win. Unfortunately they are playing without some talented players but for heart – they are winners.

  4. Clive

    This ladies team is a classic example of the recruitment and retention issues that everyone is complaining about in the Men’s teams.

    The girls have lost a heap of talent and signed hardly anyone. Elsie Albert was a good pick up and Tyla Amiatu is a good player but other than that it’s a disaster.

    We have assembled by far the worst roster in the NRLW and it’s another failure by Mark O’Neil and the rest of the clowns at Eels HQ.

    Someone needs to remind the Eels front office that footy clubs are judged on results and not social media engagement.

    1. Ron

      Mark oniell should be on the. Hopping block if he doesn’t outline why and how this has occurred + a way forward. It’s just negligent and unacceptable to see this rubbish. Money ball is unsustainable!! You need to recruit high calibre people instead of constantly skimping out. His construction of the nrl and nrlw+ infamously slow player negotiations+ longer term deals to sivo+ lane, matto and junior are all looking like suspect/bad calls already

      1. Milo

        Agreed – and also the people who hired him. It’s become a farce – like our lack of intent in the nrl and poor defence

        1. Poppa

          Can I get your views on Mark O’Neill’s role and performance Sixties, I have been supporting him for a long time and I am not sure if he is a victim of the costs or budgetary requirements placed from the board. He was doing an amazing job to start with and now he is under the pump and looking being made a scapegoat… I wrong?

          1. sixties

            The NRLW roster situation is completely different to the NRL. I’m not saying that there weren’t mistakes but the Eels lost players in situations that were completely out of their control. As for MON, he is a massive advocate of accountability. This season will weigh heavily on him. My take is that there needs to be both a restructure and a streamlining of our processes. It needs to be proactive and faster. As for the immediate needs, I hope they focus on a couple of key targets and find ways to make it happen.

          2. Spark

            I’ve only met MON a couple of times in a social setting so it appears that you have some inside knowledge of what he’s like –
            Q. As a massive advocate of accountability , is this in relation to results on the field as well as budgets etc ? Or is he more of a back room budget football businessman and leave the on field to BA ? If he does look at it all , would you expect that he will be undertaking a detailed forensic analysis of this years results for both the men’s and women’s teams ?

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