Cartwright stars against old club as Eels beat Titans

Joel Gould |

Parramatta have dominated their NRL pre-season trial against Gold Coast in Ipswich, winning 26-16.
Parramatta have dominated their NRL pre-season trial against Gold Coast in Ipswich, winning 26-16.

Bryce Cartwright starred against his former club as the electric Parramatta Eels made a pre-season statement with a razzle dazzle 26-16  pre-season trial win over Gold Coast.

Parramatta missed the finals in 2023 after reaching the grand final the year before, but there was a lot to like about their showing at North Ipswich Reserve on Sunday in front of 5306 fans.

The Titans were poor in many facets in the opening half and coach Des Hasler won’t want a repeat of their failure to wrap up the ball in tackles, nor their lack of kick-chase pressure, when the NRL season kicks off.

Eels key players Clint Gutherson, Dylan Brown and Mitchell Moses fired.

NSW props Junior Paulo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard were enormous through the middle of the park, with both being mobile and creative.

Paulo put Campbell-Gillard over under the posts with a barnstorming charge and a silky pass.

Coach Brad Arthur will have been delighted with what he saw from the pair as the Eels aim to start the season with momentum.

In 2023 they lost five of their first seven NRL games.

Moses set up second-rower Cartwright for a try with a crafty grubber kick.

Cartwright was on fire against his old club with his offloading game on song, and his defensive game superb.

“Getting everyone through fit and healthy is the big positive out of it, and having our full team on the park after a big pre-season,” Cartwright said.

“There were some really good signs there in tough conditions. Brad wanted us to be physical and I thought we were physical throughout.”

Eels centre Will Penisini crashed over early before Ipswich-raised Titans winger Phil Sami scored in the corner after a classic cut-out pass from half Tanah Boyd.

Sami repeatedly had the local crowd on their feet.

The Eels dominated from that moment to lead 20-4 at half-time.

AJ Brimson, in his new position of centre, raced the length of the field to score for the Titans against the run of play after the break.

The Eels hit back with a superb try to lock J’maine Hopgood after great lead-up from Clint Gutherson and Moses.

Gold Coast back-rower Beau Fermor, in his first game back from an ACL tear that rubbed him out of 2023, threw a sublime pass to send Alofiana Khan-Pereira over in the corner.

“It was good to be back,” Fermor said.

“I was pretty nervous and a bit shaky in the first 20 minutes but after the drinks break I settled myself down and thought I was pretty good after that.

“We let Parra out of their end a bit too much. They are a really good side and made us pay.”