The Parramatta Eels and Penrith Panthers have played out a thrilling 22-all draw in Bega in their NRL trial match but the result was unimportant compared to the cause the sides were playing for.
The match was shifted to Bega in a bid to help local communities affected by bushfires as the teams’ preparation for the season continued in a hard fought match.
Both teams have spent the week in the community with the Eels meeting former Parramatta junior Tim Salway, who lost his father and brother in the recent fires.
Salway said it was “a tornado with fire on it” as it ravaged the area.
Earlier in the week, the Eels met with Salway and offer a with donation in conjunction with the Men of League Foundation, with $7000 of farm supplies for the former player.
While it’s a little bit of relief in an area that needs so much more, the match has also been a boon for the region with an estimated $5 million injected into the community during their visit.
Great scenes as the community came together.Source:Getty Images
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said he had also asked NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler to possibly get the Blues into the region.
“We’ve been here for a while already and today isn’t the end of that journey,” Greenberg said.
“This community and others will need ongoing support. This is a big part of our strategy but there has to be more so over the course of this year you will see that.
“I was talking to Brad Fittler just before and he is trying to figure out how he can bring a State of Origin team into a training session at some point.
“You could imagine what that would do for the local community.”
The match saw Mitchell Moses reveal some of what he had learned from an off-season working with rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns, putting in a starring performance in the match.
Moses scored 12 points for the Eels in Saturday afternoon’s bushfire appeal match in Bega, including a chip-and-chase effort which would make any highlights reel for the season.
With coach Brad Arthur looking on in bizarre scenes from over a fence behind the posts, it was a key hit out as the Eels game from behind to seal a draw with the Panthers.
The Eels coaches make do in Bega.Source:FOX SPORTS
While the Fox League commentators said Arthur and his coaching staff were standing on a “stepladder”, he said it was a four-tiered seating panel.
It’s a long way from the luxury of the coaching boxes in the NRL but hearkens back to an era of days gone by.
And from his vantage point, Arthur was asked what he’d like to see from his team as they started attacking the line from 20m out, he said “We’re looking to score under the posts here”.
Prophetically, Reed Mahoney kicked under the posts, with a Panthers fumble handing a try to Ray Stone.
“Did Brad Arthur say try under the posts? He’s a mastercoach, he’s a super coach up a stepladder,” Andrew Voss said in commentary.
It was a strong match for both side’s playmakers with Moses pair and Nathan Cleary impressing.
Nathan Cleary wants to hang on to his Blues Origin jersey.Source:Getty Images
Both sides exchanged one try each before Sione Fonua scored in the last minute to level the scores for Parramatta and Jai Field missed the conversion on the siren.
This year shapes as a massive season for Moses after a summer working with Andrew Johns.
After winning Dally M halfback of the year in 2019 with a competition-high 31 try assists, a spot in the NSW State of Origin halves is open in 2020 with Maloney out of the picture.
The Eels are also considered one of the title favourites after last year’s finals appearance, and Moses’ performance will be key.
— with AAP
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