Match Preview – Eels vs Warriors (Round 11)
Date: Friday 18th of May
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Kick off: 6:00pm
Head Referee: Adam Gee
Assistant Referee: Gavin Reynolds
Head to head: Played 38, Eels 21, Warriors 17, drawn 0
Head to head odds: Warriors ($ 1.79), Eels ($ 2.05)
Broadcast: Live Fox Sports 6:00pm
Last four encounters:
- Eels 32, Warriors 24 at ANZ Stadium (2017)
- Warriors 22, Eels 10 at Mt Smart Stadium (2017)
- Eels 40, Warriors 18 at Mt Smart Stadium (2016)
- Eels 22, Warriors 4 at Eden Park (2016)
The Warm Up:
This Friday is a battle between teams at opposite ends of the NRL ladder as the 16th placed Parramatta Eels face off against the 3rd placed New Zealand Warriors.
Both teams enter this match off the back of losses. The Warriors 32 point drubbing at the hands of the Roosters comes as a surprise considering the Warriors spectacular early season form. On the other side of the coin, the Parramatta Eels can’t seem to buy themselves a win even though they’ve arguably been in a position to win every game this season, excluding their round two loss to the Sea Eagles.
Undoubtedly, the Eels lack of confidence in attack coupled with their inability to put in a complete eighty-minute performance and a mounting injury toll are at the heart of their woes. It’s been no easy fix and another loss would see the Eels finals hopes well and truly dashed.
This match will tell us plenty about the Eels.
Having a Punt:
Look for Eels winger Bevan French to score a try in a Parramatta Eels win. This combination of bets is valued at $3.40 via Sportsbet. Both teams first try favourites are listed below:
Warriors: David Fusitua – $8.50
Eels: Bevan French – $10
Eels: George Jennings – $11
Warriors: Ken Maumalo – $11
Feed Your Footy Brain:
This week’s match will mark the debut of Eels back rower, and former Warrior, Marata Niukore. The powerful forward was named the Wenty player of the year in 2017 and has been producing outstanding stats in the ISP in 2018.
Tracking: Corey Norman.
At the beginning of this season, many NRL experts had Norman playing Origin for Queensland this year. Unfortunately, the five-eighth’s form has been way below representative level. Indeed, his long term prospects at the Eels may even be under the microscope given the wraps being bestowed on lower grade pivot, Jaeman Salmon.
Though any short term changing of the guard is unlikely given Salmon’s Rookie Contract status, it’s healthy for the club to have a lower grade half exerting pressure on the top grade.
Norman needs to get back to some rugby league basics. His long term kicks need to find the corners and the mid field bombs have no place in the Eels match plans. His options in the quarter need to be more decisive, passing the ball when it’s on and straightening the attack far more often.
The future, and Parramatta’s immediate prospects, are in Norman’s hands.
Strong running Warriors centre, Solomone Kata is arguably one the hardest players to tackle in the NRL. The 23 year old has been in great form for the Warriors, averaging just under 100 running metres and three tackle breaks per game this season. His powerful charges within the red zone will present a challenge out wide for the Eels defence. Parramatta will need to ensure that they limit his opportunities by shutting down any quality ball from heading his way.
Parramatta Eels (16th coming into the round)
- Clint Gutherson (C)
- Bevan French
- Michael Jennings
- Brad Takairangi
- George Jennings
- Corey Norman
- Mitchell Moses
- Daniel Alvaro
- Cameron King
- Peni Terepo
- Beau Scott
- Tepai Moeroa
- Manu Ma’u
- Will Smith
- Suaia Matagi
- David Gower
- Marata Niukore
- Josh Hoffman
- Siosaia Vave
- Jaeman Salmon
- Ray Stone
Coach: Brad Arthur
Late mail: Expect the Eels to be 1-17.
New Zealand Warriors (3rd place coming into the round)
- Roger Tuivasa Sheck (C) – Late Withdrawal
- David Fusitua
- Peta Hiku
- Solomone Kata
- Ken Maumalo
- Blake Green
- Mason Lino
- Bunty Afoa
- Issac Luke
- Agnatius Paasi
- Isaiah Papali’i
- Tohu Harris
- Adam Blair
- Jazz Tevaga
- Tevita Satae
- James Gavet
- Simon Mannering
- Gerard Beale
- Karl Lawton
- Albert Vete
- Antony Gelling
Coach: Stephen Kearney
Late mail: Charnze Nicollet-Klokstad is a late inclusion to the squad for Tuivasa Sheck.
The two fullbacks would rank amongst the top three best players at their respective clubs. It’s little wonder that both have leadership roles in their teams.
Gutherson is constantly involved in the play, always lurking around the ruck and bobbing up in support. RTS is a flashier individual blessed with speed, great footwork and an uncanny ability to find the try line.
Tuivasa Sheck has become the Warriors “go to man” and with Shaun Johnson currently out of action, this may be even more amplified. Tuivasa Sheck is most dangerous running off the second phase play generated by the Warriors huge forwards. He relishes the chance of an offload against a retreating defensive line and only needs half a gap to seize a potential try scoring opportunity. This spells danger for an Eels pack outmatched in size by the Warriors forwards.
Look for the Eels to run the Warriors ragged through their attack in an attempt to try and tire the Warriors big men out, limiting the impact of the likes of Roger Tuivasa Sheck. Eels playmakers Mitchell Moses and Corey Norman could possibly kick the ball early, constantly turning the Warriors big men around. The Eels kick chase will have to be disciplined for the kicks to be effective against a talented Warriors back three.
Eels fullback Clinton Gutherson is a similar “go to man” for the Eels. True to Gutho’s nature as a player he goes looking for the ball in what is often match defining moments. Though he blamed himself for last week’s loss, the Eels custodian helps to turn half chances into scoring plays through his combination of energy, involvement and inspiration.
Gutherson professionalism drives his team mates in their efforts, from the training track to match days. There’s little doubt that the Eels are a stronger proposition when he’s on the field.
The Winner Is:
This was a fairly hard conclusion for me to come to. On one side of the coin I think the Eels aren’t too far away from claiming their third win of the season. On the other side of the coin I would say the Eels can’t buy a win and they’ve forgotten how to close games out.
That said, the Warriors were smashed last weekend and seemed almost rudderless in attack.
With the Eels enjoying the home ground advantage I’ll go with them. Without any confidence, put me down for an Eels win 21 points to 14.
Man of the match: Clinton Gutherson, Roger Tuivasa Sheck or Mitchell Moses.
Enjoy the game
GO THE EELS !!!