Despite both teams missing several stars, their lineups produced a quality game that would have both coaches happy prior to the 2010 NRL kick off. The Dragons under the guidance of rookie coach Steve Price got out to a flying start and never surrendered the lead and for the Eels, they tried one of their trademark comebacks but in this case they simply left their run too late.
It was an impressive fan welcome in Perth, with around 10,000 spectators on hand at Members Equity Bank Stadium to cheer on both sides. The only concern was the heat, with the temperature tipping 36 degrees yesterday in WA – the players required plenty of fluids, despite breaking the game down into 20 minute quarters.
In the Eels corner, boxing legend Danny Green ran the water for the Parramatta side in his home town – but it was the Dragons who put on the early show, racing to a 16-0 lead inside the half hour mark.
It was Jason Nightingale doing the damage, running on the right fringes Nightingale was a handful and in his first try and beat 3 defenders to race into the corner.
Each team was without their big name and featured several new faces with key-men Jarryd Hayne, Nathan Hindmarsh, Fuifui Moimoi and Justin Poore not playing for Parra while Jamie Soward, Matt Cooper, Brett Morris and the suspended Beau Scott werent featuring for the Saints.
For the Dragons, experienced hooker Luke Priddis had a good showing, as did new recruit in late 2009 Nathan Fien.
For the Eels, Feleti Mateo who was captaining the side had some impressive involvement as the Eels went on their late surge – as did returning hooker-half Kris Keating.
“We had a few young blokes, I thought it was a like a furnace blast for them,” Eels coach Daniel Anderson said after the game.
“We got caught a little bit physically by the size of the Dragons but they got better as the game got on.
“We started to play with a bit more conviction and confidence. I thought we played very conservatively (in the first half).
“But in the second half they stressed the line.
“Feleti came on and I thought he was good … and gave us more opportunities.”
Dragons interim coach Steve Price was happy with his side.
“I’m sure a lot of the experienced guys get confidence out of those younger boys who were on show today, the likes of Jake Marketo and Beau Henry and Kyle Stanley were given a good chance,” Price said. “For the most part we are pleased with the first hit-out for the year.”
The Eels and Dragons will meet again in Round 1 of the 2010 NRL season at Parramatta Stadium in the opening Friday Night Footall game.