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It’s Almost Here – NRL Season Approaches with Trial Matches Kicking Off

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NRL fans get excited – trial matches have begun and the season is just around the corner!

With a number of teams in action over the weekend, it was a chance for players to gain some valuable match fitness and enjoy a game of footy after a hard slog during the summer pre-season.

At Leichhardt Oval on Friday night, the Canberra Raiders beat the Sydney Roosters 32-18, while the Manly Sea Eagles overcame the West Tigers 28-4.

Saturday’s results saw the Warriors beat the Melbourne Storm in Melbourne 30-18, the North Queensland Cowboys upset the South Sydney Rabbitohs 24-12 in Cairns and in a Queensland derby, the Gold Coast Titans and Brisbane Broncos drew 26 all on the Gold Coast.

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Sunday’s NRL trial game action featured a double-header at CommBank stadium where the reigning premiers the Penrith Panthers beat the Cronulla Sharks 34-6, while the St. George Illawarra Dragons managed to hold on against the Parramatta Eels and claim a 26-22 victory.

The Eels game against the Dragons produced plenty of action with lots of tries, three sin bins and numerous injuries, including a season ending knee injury to Eels winger Haze Dunster.

The Eels made a fast start to the game to lead 16-0, however the Dragons hit back as they drew level at half time. 

Both teams traded tries in the second half with the Dragons going on to win an exciting game.

Dragons coach Anthony Griffin started with Cody Ramsey in the fullback position with young gun Tyrell Sloan on the wing. 

Sloan is likely to be the Dragons fullback in round one of the NRL season and played well against the Eels, including having a try assist when he threw a superb cut-out pass to winger Jonathon Reuben who scored with an athletic finish.

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Fox League expert Braith Anasta backed Sloan to start for the Dragons in the upcoming season.

“I think it is a no-brainer, I think it is Sloan all day,” Anasta said.

“I don’t even think there is a question about it in my mind, the kid is just full of class, we saw that back cut-out pass for the try, he has got great speed.”

Anthony Griffin said Sloan was full of confidence.

“He was good, he got a bit more confident as the game went on and he has a lot of class,” Griffin said.

2021 NRL Premiers the Penrith Panthers kick-started their new season as coach Ivan Cleary decided to rest most of his stars in his side’s victory over the Cronulla Sharks.

The young Panthers side dominated the Sharks with the halves combination of Kurt Falls and Sean O’Sullivan leading the way, while Mavrik Geyer, son of Panthers hero Mark Geyer, was impressive as he scored a try, had an assist in another and ran for over 100 metres.

Speaking to Fox League before the trial against the Sharks, Cleary said spots on the bench for round one are still up for grabs.

“The balance of the bench is definitely up for grabs. We will have to see how we work it,” Cleary said.

“The reality of life is that COVID can still play a part in every week, so we have to be adaptable. We have a bunch of guys who we think can add to our team throughout the year. It could be round 1, could be later, we will see how we go.”

With more NRL trial games coming up, and the season only a few weeks away, fans are starting to get excited about the prospects of their team for 2022 – bring on the footy!

Joel Martelli
Joel Martelli
The only thing that Joel Martelli loves more than football (seriously, we wouldn't be surprised if he has a Wollongong Wolves tattoo) is writing about all things sports. With a Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies Degree specialising in Journalism, he spends his days uncovering breaking athlete news stories and diving deep into play-by-play strategies. We're glad that he's put his passion to the pages of Only Sports as one of our dedicated sports writers.

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