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Big boppers fire as Eels down Titans

The Eels tuned up for Round 1 of the new season with a 26-16 victory over the Titans on Sunday afternoon to close out the 2024 Pre-Season Challenge. 

Parramatta did most of the damage through an opening 40 minutes in which they scored 20 points, with their pack laying a solid platform from which the attack flowed. 

J'maine Hopgood starred with 226 run metres and a try, while both Junior Paulo and Bryce Cartwright impressed as well, giving Mitchell Moses and Dylan Brown plenty to work with, along with captain Clint Gutherson who made his injury return. 

Of perhaps even more concern than the dropped result for the Titans will be the fitness of centre AJ Brimson, who failed a HIA in the second half having earlier been in the wars with a couple of knocks. 

After the two sides traded blows through tries from Will Penisini and Phillip Sami, the Eels owned the next half hour and ran in three unanswered scores to establish a 20-4 half-time lead. 

Will Penisini Try

Maika Sivo got over out wide before the big boys got involved with strikes from Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Cartwright. 

While Brimson got one back four minutes into the second period with a runaway effort, it was quickly cancelled out by Hopgood a short time later, with the boot of Moses ensuring Parra pulled further away on the scoreboard. 

J'maine Hopgood Try

The lightning speed of Alofiana Khan-Pereira gave the hosts a sniff just before the hour, before Jojo Fifita added another which should have signaled game on, but for the poor goalkicking of Tanah Boyd who failed to convert any of their four tries. 

Match Snapshot 

  • Maika Sivo went on report with 22 minutes to play for a tackle on AJ Brimson which saw the Gold Coast centre leave the field and later fail a HIA. 
  • Parramatta lost Bailey Simonsson in the opening minutes to a hamstring issue. 
  • The Titans completed 88 percent of their sets compared to Parramatta who finished on 69 percent. 

AKP with a bone rattler

  • Coach Des Hasler may be on the lookout for a new goalkicker after Tanah Boyd missed all four of his conversions against the Eels. Boyd shaped as the likely first-choice kicker through the opening rounds while Jayden Campbell is out injured. 
  • J'Maine Hopgood registered game-high numbers for run metres (226) and tackles (31). 

Play of the Game 

As soon as he had to juggle the pass Alofiana Khan-Pereira should have been up against it to score here. But an incredible first two steps of speed saw him recover and beat the cover defence to score in the corner. 

Alofiana Khan-Pereira Try

What They Said

"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," Eels forward Bryce Cartwright said.

"There were some really good signs there in tough conditions. Brad [coach Brad Arthur] wanted us to be physical and I thought we were physical throughout."

What's Next

Both teams open the season on home soil, with the Eels at CommBank Stadium to face the Bulldogs and the Titans taking on the Dragons later that night. All eyes will be on the fitness of Gold Coast star David Fifita (pec) and Brimson's recovery from a head knock, while Simonsson's hamstring will be assessed during the week as well. 

Acknowledgement of Country

Gold Coast Titans proudly acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout South East Queensland.