Almanac Rugby League – Panthers Ace Eels

On the night before Penrith’s clash with Parramatta, I played my weekly tennis match with my friend Michael, a fellow Footy Almanac scribe and devoted Parramatta fan. At the time, I wondered if our match would foreshadow the result of the Parramatta v Penrith clash. The first set was won comfortably by me, which I took to be a good omen for Penrith’s chances.

Fast forward to Friday night, and thanks to three generous penalties, the Eels spent the first ten minutes camped inside Penrith’s half. Alas, their attack didn’t look threatening and Penrith’s defence was rarely troubled.

When Penrith finally got a penalty, they quickly struck, sneaking over the line courtesy of a simple three on two overlap down the blindside.

At that point I had to leave the coverage to pick my son up from his shift at McDonald’s. We listened to the ABC coverage in the car and heard the description of Michael Jennings breaking through for the Panther’s second try. Ryan, who had selected Luke Lewis in his fantasy team, was most interested to hear if Lewis had thrown the final pass.

Over the next ten minutes, Penrith ran rampant, offloading at will and picking up another try to extend their score to sixteen points.

Fui Fui Moi Moi came on after twenty four minutes with a hairstyle reminiscent of Alex the Lion’s mane from the movie, Madagascar. He could not turn back the Penrith tide.  Within minutes, Travis Burns offloaded with three Eels hanging off him. From the second phase play, Luke Walsh pushed Nathan Hindmarsh off, drew in the fullback and put Lachlan Coote over for the easiest of tries.

Parramatta took a line dropout with fifteen seconds remaining in the half, but the ball came flying back over their heads a second later as Travis Burns kicked a field goal on the stroke of half-time. The Eels were booed off the field at half time.

On Thursday night, the first point of the second set against Michael started with a volley off the frame of his racket, which then took the net cord and dropped over for a winner. From there, Michael continued to win points, eventually taking out the second set 7-5.

Given my superstition that our tennis match would foretell the outcome of the football match I expected a dynamic start to the second half from Parramatta. However, following a number of attacking raids, the Panthers extended their lead when a cutout pass from Luke Walsh created a three on one overlap, allowing Brad Tighe to cross for a simple try.

The remainder of the second half was a lacklustre affair, characterised by dropped ball and mistakes from both sides. Penrith added two more tries to their tally, to finish on thirty nine points. The last minute try by Etuate Uaisele gave him a hat-trick. Although Parramatta did score one second-half try, the future of their coach and some players looks less certain than that of Sydney’s Monorail, whose destruction was announced on the same day by the NSW government.

I’m looking forward to reviewing the finer points of the game with Michael when we reconvene for our next tennis match on Thursday.

Penrith 39 (Uaisele 3, Jennings, Coote, Tighe, Burns Tries, Walsh 5/7 Goals, Burns Field Goal) def Parramatta 6 (Maitua Try, Sandow 1/1 Goal).

Venue: Parramatta Stadium

Crowd: 13,788

Referees: Matt Cecchin, Gavin Reynolds

3: Luke Walsh; 2: Travis Burns; 1: Luke Lewis

Debut: Mitch Achurch (Pen)

Pete Abela is an author. You can visit Pete’s website here.


  1. Michael Kennedy says

    An eloquent and surprisingly accurate report. I’m the first to admit that I don’t ever recall a more inept performance from an Eels’ outfit. Surely the reserve grade team would have fared better. After last week’s debacle against the Cowboys I suggested that it couldn’t get much worse for the Eels. I was wrong.

    As for tennis on Thursday night….just be wary of a wounded eel.

  2. Pete Abela says

    I’ll be very wary on Thursday night

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