Date: Friday 13th of May 2016
Venue: Pirtek Stadium
Gates Open: 5:15pm
Kick off: 7:50pm (NYC 5:35pm)
Head Referee: Ben Cummins
Assistant Referee: Chris Sutton
Head to head: Played 120, Eels 51, Rabbioths 66, drawn 3
Head to head odds: Eels ($ 1.48), Rabbitohs ($ 2.65)
Broadcast: Live Channel 9: 7:30pm
Last four encounters:
- Rabbitohs 14, Eels 12 at ANZ Stadium
- Eels 29, Rabbitohs 16 at Pirtek Stadium
- Rabbitohs 32, Eels 12 at Pirtek Stadium
- Rabbitohs 30, Eels 10 at ANZ Stadium
This Friday night’s round ten encounter will feature the under fire Parramatta Eels squaring off against the out of form South Sydney Rabbitohs. The last fortnight has been hell on Earth if you are in any way, shape or form a supporter of the Parramatta Eels. It really tests the resolve of the staunchest Parra fan.
Whilst it hasn’t happened yet, the Eels will inevitably be stripped of twelve competition points due to multiple salary cap breaches in the past. This will see the high flying Eels anchored to the bottom of the NRL competition ladder. Whilst the Eels will then be considered long odds to make the top eight, it will still be mathematically possible for them to do so. Based on points required to qualify for the top eight over the past couple of years (28 points), the Eels would need to win at least 12 of their remaining 15 games this season.
The Rabbitohs are desperately out of form after losing to the Wests Tigers before the representative round to slump to four losses in a row. The Rabbitohs will be desperate to make a bad week for the Eels worse. Can the Rabbioths defeat the Eels or will the Eels yet again defy adversity and claim the two competition points? It should be a rocking atmosphere at Pirtek Stadium.
Value Bet: My value bet for this one is for the Eels to defeat the Rabbitohs by a margin of 13 points or more at $2.75.
As for the first try favourites for both teams, the Eels have Semi Radradra at an extremely short $5 and Vai Toutai at $11 whereas the Rabbioths have Aaron Gray at $11 and Dane Nielson at $13.
Interesting fact: Greg Inglis makes a move to five eighth in an attempt by the Rabbitohs to kick start their season. Inglis has only played two games at five eighth since joining the Rabbioths in 2011.
It will be a big week for: Corey Norman.
Eels superstar half Corey Norman has arguably been the Eels best player this season. With all the drama that has gone on off the field, the Eels will need Norman to be at his very best if they are to stay alive in season 2016. With the absence of club captain and halfback Kieran Foran, Norman will assume the mantle of chief playmaker. Makeshift five eighth Brad Takairangi again partners Norman in the halves after a successful result just a fortnight ago against the Canterbury Bulldogs.
After kicking his season off by claiming the player of the tournament in the 2016 Auckland Nines, he has helped lead the Eels to a handful of wins. He is currently sporting impressive statistics such as five line breaks and five try assists, the latter statistic being the highest number of try assists scored by an Eels player this season. Corey Norman will need to continue this rich vein of form for Parra to defeat a Rabbitohs team desperate to score a long overdue victory.
This week’s danger man is Rabbitohs lock forward Sam Burgess. The English forward’s return to the NRL this year was eagerly awaited, with many judges speculating that Sam Burgess would be the best signing of the 2016 season, leading the Rabbitohs back their glory days of just under two seasons ago.
Burgess is one of the games very best players although he has been far from his best of late. Comparing the form of Burgess two seasons ago to the form of Burgess currently, you would currently have the Sam Burgess from two seasons ago being a slightly better performer week to week.
The Rabbitohs have been big disappointments this season, currently languishing in 12th position on the NRL ladder. Their glory days of the past are seemingly a long way behind them as is the form that saw them crowned the NRL premiers in 2014. The Rabbitohs will need more than just Burgess’ efforts to regain their form of the past but the form of Burgess will go a long way to determining whether they can become a competition force in 2016. With Burgess leading a pack consisting of promising talents such as Nathan Brown, Paul Carter and Kyle Turner, the other Souths players will no doubt lift on the back of his efforts.
Parramatta Eels (5th coming into the round* subject to 12 point deduction)
- Michael Gordon
- Semi Radradra
- Michael Jennings
- Vai Toutai
- Clinton Gutherson
- Brad Takairangi
- Corey Norman
- Junior Paulo
- Nathan Peats
- Danny Wicks
- Manu Ma’u
- Beau Scott
- Tepai Moeroa
- Issac De Gois
- Peni Terepo
- David Gower
- Kenny Edwards
Coach: Brad Arthur
Late mail: The release of Nathan Peats will result in De Gois moving to the starting line up. Another player such as Pritchard is likely to move to the bench. Kieran Foran’s return is likely to be at least one more week away as he is on indefinite leave.
Souths Sydney Rabbitohs (12th coming into the round)
- Alex Johnston
- Dane Nielson
- Kirisome Auva’a
- Bryson Goodwin
- Aaron Gray
- Greg Inglis (C)
- Adam Reynolds
- Thomas Burgess
- Cameron McInnes
- Nathan Brown
- Paul Carter
- Kyle Turner
- Sam Burgess
- Luke Keary
- Jason Clark
- Jack Gosiewski
- George Burgess
Coach: Michael Maguire
Late mail: Its expected the Rabbioths will remain 1 through 17 for this encounter with Greg Inglis’s move to five eighth soon to be a reality.
Two Key Match Ups:
Tepai Moeroa vs Sam Burgess: The first key match up features a battle of the lock forwards as Eels up and coming star Tepai Moeroa squares off against Rabbitohs mega star and dual English international Sam Burgess. Both Moeroa and Burgess were ruled out of their team’s last games a fortnight ago and as a result they have not played any NRL in almost three weeks. Sam Burgess is possibly the games best forward and would be feeling like he is under a little bit of pressure at the moment.
The Rabbitohs are currently sitting in 12th place and look well out of form and when that happens people often look for the reason why the team is underperforming. Whilst a finger couldn’t be pointed at one player you could suggest that Burgess would feel the need to lift his game. He is the type of player that leads from the front and lets his actions do the talking. When he is on song, Burgess is the type of player who can inspire those around him to lift, whether it’s putting on a big hit, making a try saving tackle or taking a blockbusting run.
On Friday night Greg Inglis will make his return to five eighth meaning he will be in the front line for both defence and attack. This means Inglis will be even closer to the likes of Burgess. This could spell danger for the Eels as we all know how good Sam Burgess is at producing a brilliant offload or pass, which could be used to enhance the attacking capabilities of one Greg Inglis. Whilst Inglis may also be out of form he is still one of the games best players on his day and Parramatta Eels fans they will be hoping Friday night is not Greg Inglis’s day.
Eels young buck Tepai Moeroa started off the year in grand style, winning the race to the starting lock forward position vacated by NRL veteran Anthony Watmough. Moeroa was able to claim this jersey despite plenty of competition that included the likes of Kenny Edwards, Danny Wicks, Peni Terepo, David Gower and Kelepi Tanginoa. Having taken this opportunity with both hands, Moeroa looks at home in the number thirteen jumper. Undoubtedly there is room to improve for Moeroa as he is still a young man and yet to really have a breakout game this season, though with his attributes this may not be far away. Eels fans will be hoping Moeroa can deliver in a big way on Friday night.
Semi Radradra vs Aaron Gray:
The second key match up features a battle of the wingers as newly crowned Kangaroo Semi Radradra prepares to face off against 4 try hero for city, Aaron Gray. Though Radradra had the much higher representative honour, Aaron Gray was far more impressive as he scored four tries in City’s win against Country in Tamworth.
Coming into the 2016 season, Rabbitohs winger Gray had a point to prove. His off-season mishap with prescription drugs, landed him in hospital and in trouble with his club. However, the Rabbitohs deemed Gray deserving of another chance and he has been able to find his way into the Rabbitohs starting line up once more. Last Sunday, Gray found his form and delivered a blockbuster performance that would have seen him as a potential candidate for best on field playing from the wing, which is an impressive feat indeed. Gray’s performance may have even seen him shoot into State of Origin contention for NSW as the wing position is far from decided with the likes of Brett Morris and James Tedesco ruled out through injury and Semi Radradra ruled ineligible to play.
The Rabbitohs will welcome a potential purple patch in form from Gray as it is much needed at the moment. If Gray, along with Johnston and Nielson, can help to pick up some of the slack left by the departure of Greg Inglis from the Rabbitohs number one jumper, it will go a long way to ensuring Souths are competitive against an Eels team determined to defeat them and overcome more adversity.
Eels superstar winger Semi Radradra did not have the best game but nonetheless did not look out of place in his green and gold debut. He made many strong runs for the Kangaroos after serving his time in the sin bin and even looked to strike up a promising combination with centre Greg Inglis whom Radradra will come face to face with on many occasions on Friday night.
Radradra currently sits outside the top five try scorers for this season and will no doubt be keen to cross the line for a few tries on Friday night. With Michael Jennings sitting inside him, Radradra is a very dangerous prospect for the Rabbitohs. Eels fans will be hoping the likes of Jennings and Radradra can show off their skills to great effect against the Rabbitohs as they look to put a tough week behind them.
My tip: Given the fact I already revealed my tip for this one in the value bet segment of the match preview, I’ll make the reason why I’m tipping the Eels to win by 13 points or more reasonably short.
Whilst the Rabbitohs are desperate to snap a four game losing the streak the Eels must be itching to finally get out on the field after the name of their club has been dragged through the mud across various media outlets. The Eels players must be very fired given the fact the NRL are set to take away everything they have worked for this season. I guess they may even feel a sense of anger when taking the field come Friday.
It is because of this anger that I think the Eels will be very hard to beat. The Eels will also have a home ground advantage at Pirtek Stadium, a stadium where these two teams haven’t met very often over the past couple of years (with ANZ a regular venue).
I’m tipping an Eels victory and a big one, Eels 44, Rabbitohs 10.
Man of the match: Corey Norman
Enjoy the game, GO THE EELS !!!