Luke Covell
Luke Covell

Time has come


TWEED'S Luke Covell has launched his bid for a starring role with National Rugby League club Cronulla in sterling fashion.

Covell impressed as a young Cronulla side produced a stirring effort to beat a near full-strength Parramatta 24-18 in a trial match at Lismore on Saturday night.

The Tumbulgum product, determined to break into the Sharks first team after moving to the club from West Tigers during the off-season, kicked all four of his conversion attempts and had a solid game on the wing.

"I was very happy with the way I played," Covell said yesterday.

"We got a fair bit of the ball over on my side of the field and I was happy with my involvement.

"We definitely shocked them (the Eels) and even surprised ourselves."

After a less-than-ideal stint with the Tigers, Covell is enjoying his football at his new club.

He has thrown himself into pre-season training, working hard to improve his game, particularly his speed and defence.

"We have a trial game coming up against the Cowboys in Mackay in two weeks' time and (coach) Stuart Raper is going to play his number one side," Covell said.

"Hopefully I will get into that. That's my goal for this year to cement a spot in the first-team.

"I'm loving it here, it's a lot more professional and I'm being really well looked after."

Leading 18-6 at halftime the Sharks were overrun in the third quarter by the new-look Eels outfit, boasting several new recruits, to be joined 18-all at the final break.

With new signing Glenn Morrison running riot the Eels looked destined for victory but costly errors placed the Eels defence under pressure.

The Sharks attacked strongly with Sharks lock Cameron Ciraldo crossingfor the winning try with two minutes on the clock.

Raper was delighted with the victory, given he didn't field several first graders including Australian halfback Brett Kimmorley and ace fullback David Peachey.

"It is always good to win and to beat Parramatta with this side is more of an achievement," said Raper.

"Still it is only a trial and the main thing is we came through injury free and a lot of new players got first-grade experience.

"There were a few things I was aiming for and looking for tonight and they were achieved."

The victory with a very inexperienced side has given Raper confidence the offseason has ended his headaches from 2004.

"The two things we did not have last year was depth and pressure from the guys below," said Raper.

"It (the performance of the young guys) puts more pressure on the first grade players."

Eels' new hooker Mark Riddell crossed for a try in his debut match for the blue and gold, but it was the performance of former Cowboys lock Morrison that most im- pressed Parramatta coach Brian Smith.

"I think they (the new recruits) went a lot like the team, some very good points and others patchy," Smith said.

"Glenn Morrison was the standout of not only the new recruits but the team."

CRONULLA 24 (Russell Aitken, Nathan Merritt, Phillip Leuluai, Cameron Ciraldo tries; Luke Covell 4 goals) d PARRAMATTA 18 (Mark Riddell, John Morris, Wade McKinnon tries; Mark Riddell 2, Luke Burt goals).

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