Pirates fall to Eels 68-12 in SG Ball Opener  

Story By Edward Nixon

The Cash Converters West Coast Pirates showed promise but ultimately fell to the defending Premiers Parramatta Eels 68-12 in their SG Ball Season Opener at Ken Allen Field on Saturday.

Caption: Taine Boelen carries the ball forward for the Pirates on Saturday
Image: Nancye Perrin

The Eels racked up an impressive 13 tries, as they got their title defence off to the perfect start.

After finishing bottom of the SG Ball standings with a 0-8 record in 2017, the Pirates started strongly behind some aggressive defence.

Against their more fancied opponents, West Coast pressured Parramatta into making errors on their first three sets.

“We wanted to come out and give it to Parramatta, which I feel we did well in the first 10-15 minutes,” Pirates Coach Daniel Manning said.

In attack, a clever kick by halfback Kane McDonald forced a repeat set for the Pirates inside the Eel’s 10-metre line to give his side dangerous field position.

Sensing an opportunity to draw first blood, the Pirates put the ball through the hands well before prop Aiden Carstairs knocked the ball on to butcher a certain try.

From the resulting play, the Eels got on the board – centre Peter Tevaga crashing over from close range in the 13th minute.

Parramatta added a second try moments later – a clever cross-field kick catching West Coast’s Billy Judge off his line to allow Tyler Tuigamala to touch over in the corner.

An error at the kickoff from Tyler Hunt gave Parramatta solid field position, and the reigning champions made the home side pay, adding a third try in the first 20 minutes.

After going down 96-0 in the reverse fixture last season, the Pirates got themselves on the board before the half time break – Zedekiah Clark-Wright crossing for his side’s first points of 2018.

Hunt knocked over the conversion in his first game as captain, much to the delight of the home crowd.

“I’m looking forward to leading the boys both on and off the field,” Hunt said.

McDonald’s attempted chip-and-chase was charged down on the stroke of half-time, leading to a soft Eels try as the visitors went into the sheds with a 32-6 lead.

In the second half, the Eels showed their class, racking up a half-century of points after 51 minutes.

The Pirates didn’t let their heads drop, and added their second try of the afternoon when Bowman Stein showed great footwork to bundle over in the 65th minute.

The Pirates now turn their attention to Round Two, where they will travel to take on the North Sydney Bears on February 17.

In the later kickoff, the Cash Converters West Coast Pirates Under 19’s claimed a 34-16 win over a Papua New Guinea WA Reddust.