Eels find No.1 as Hayne and French shine
JARRYD Hayne, welcome home but the No.1 belongs to Bevan French.
Parramatta and their exciting backline duo were spectacular against Newcastle in their 26-6 trial win in Maitland on Saturday with both men spending time at fullback as Brad Arthur continues to tinker with his team.
French finished the night with two tries to his name, one courtesy of a Hayne pass as their halves Corey Norman and Mitchell Moses continued to build on their blossoming combination.
The Knights started strong through a trio of ex-Roosters, when Mitchell Pearce and Connor Watson linked before the No.6 delivered a perfectly timed cut-out ball to Shaun Kenny-Dowall to score in the corner.
With the hosts out to a lead after five minutes, the Eels got out of first gear when Moses found French out the back and the slick custodian put Josh Hoffman across in the corner.
French would again trouble the Knights, making a break up centre field, turning Kalyn Ponga inside out before throwing a forward pass to Moses which cost them a four-pointer.
It didn't matter.
Moses and Norman linked down the short side to put Kirisome Auva'a over near halftime as he presses his claims to be the man to fill Semi Radradra's vacant wing position.
The Eels continued where they left off in the second stanza when French pushed away from an attempted tackled by Watson to score a try of his own.
Having shone at fullback, it was Hayne's turn to get a taste of the role he once had a mortgage on in Western Sydney.
Hayne started the night at right centre before switching to fullback after the break.
Hayne skipped out of a tackle and delivered a looping pass for French to register his second.
"I said to him before the game that I feel honoured that we've got him back and he should feel honoured," Arthur said.
"I loved seeing him play his first game (back) in blue and gold colours."
The scary thing for the Eels is Clint Gutherson still has to slot into the team somewhere.
Recovering from an ACL injury, Gutherson starred at fullback in 2017 but French's form has provided Arthur a welcomed headache with the new season just a fortnight away.
It's a question he'll answer at a later date as his men kept heaping pain on the Novocastrians.
Moses was the next to slide over off the back of a brilliant line-break from Beau Scott and some hot potato football.
The final try of the night belonged to Michael Jennings but the hard work was done by Auva'a, who broke away down the left channel to set up his centre.
While coach Arthur has plenty to be pleased about, Moses can expect some extra goal kicking practise next week after landing just one conversion.
Eels 26 (T: Hoffman, Auva'a, French 2, Moses, Jennings G: Moses 1/5, Norman 0/1) d
Knights 6 (T: Kenny-Dowall, G: Ponga 1/1)