Star playmaker Mitch Moses enjoyed a day out at BlueBet Stadium on Saturday as the Eels took bragging rights over western Sydney neighbours Penrith with a 36-0 win.
The Eels took just seven minutes to hit their straps when Isaiah Papali'i finished off a move which featured a great run by Clint Gutherson and clever infield kick by Will Penisini.
A 40-20 from Mitch Moses gave the Eels field position to lay on their second try through Sean Russell before the No.7 had his fingerprints all over a third try as his grubber was fumbled by Api Korisua and Makahesi Makatoa pounced.
The Eels enjoyed 59 per cent of possession in the first half and were able to dominate field position through Moses and Dylan Brown.
Moses has a day out
Come the 54th minute and the Eels had blown the game wide open when Shaun Lane delivered a neat flick pass to Jake Arthur who found Brown in support and the scoreline was out to 24-0.
Lane has been one of the standouts in the trials for the Eels and he had plenty of mates at BlueBet Stadium as Ryan Matterson, Oregon Kaufusi, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Makatoa all ran for more than 100 metres.
Moses stepped up to the plate again in the 59th minute with a perfectly weighted grubber for hooker Reed Mahoney to score the Eels' fifth try.
The Eels lost Bryce Cartwright to the sin bin for a shoulder charge with 15 minutes to play but that did little to halt their momentum as Makatoa completed a double and the defence held firm to keep a clean sheet.
Match: Panthers v Eels
Round 2 -
Venue: BlueBet Stadium, Penrith
With each passing season the pressure grows on Mitch Moses to deliver long-suffering Eels fans a premiership, and if his form in trying conditions at Penrith is anything to go by then maybe, just maybe, the 36-year drought could break in 2022. Moses produced a mix of astute kicks and long passes to dissect the Panthers' defence and looked every bit the general as he masterminded an impressive victory.
- Such was Parramatta's dominance in the opening 40 minutes that the Panthers had just three tackles inside the Eels' 20m zone.
- Isaiah Papali'i got through a mountain of work for Parra in defence, chalking up 23 tackles in the first half and finishing with 29 for the match.
- Young Panther Mavrik Geyer was forced from the field in the first half with a dislocated elbow, a cruel blow after he enjoyed a fine debut a week earlier.
- Inspirational co-captain Clint Gutherson picked up where he left off in 2021, running for 143 metres with five tackle breaks and a try assist in a stellar 62-minute stint before coach Brad Arthur gave him an early mark.
- The Panthers still have Nathan Cleary, Dylan Edwards, James Fisher-Harris, Spencer Leniu, Scott Sorensen, Liam Martin and Isaah Yeo to come back into their team so there will be no panic in the premiers' camp.
Play of the Game
The Eels exploded out of the blocks and it was halfback Mitch Moses delivering a classic 1-2 punch with a booming 40-20 kick in the 13th minute before joining forces with Dylan Brown and Clint Gutherson to put Sean Russell over in the left corner for a 12-0 lead.
Russell slides over
What They Said
"Obviously you want to go well in pre-season, you've had a long wait to play again and we're just happy to be back playing again and the focus is all on round one against the Titans. You think every year is your year coming out of pre-season and we just have to go out there in a couple of weeks and start well and see what the season holds for us." - Eels skipper Clint Gutherson.
"We've got a bit of work to do after today, not a great day at all. We were beaten in every facet by a much better team on the day. Today was disappointing but we're pretty happy where we are." - Panthers coach Ivan Cleary.
The Panthers launch the NRL season in 12 days time with a blockbuster clash against Manly at BlueBet Stadium. The premiers will go in full of confidence having won their past four meetings with the Sea Eagles.
The Eels expect to have Nathan Brown (leg) and Wiremu Greig (calf) available for their home clash with Titans after they were left out of this week's trial as a precaution.