Date: Saturday 9th June
Venue: TIO Stadium, Darwin
Kick Off: 7:30pm AEST
Head Referee:Gavin Badger
Assistant Referee: Peter Gough
Head-to-head: Played 38, Parramatta 19, Cowboys 18, Drawn 1
Odds: Eels $3.05 Cowboys $1.40
Broadcast: Foxtel from 7:30pm
Last Four Encounters:
1. Cowboys 24 def Eels 16, ANZ – Finals Week 2, 2017
2. Cowboys 32 def Eels 6, TIO Stadium – Round 14, 2017
3. Eels 26 def Cowboys 6, 1300 Smiles Stadium – Round 9, 2017
4. Cowboys 32 def Eels 1300 Smiles Stadium – Round 8, 2016
The Warm Up:
At the start of the year, nobody would have predicted that this Round 14 clash would be a battle of the cellar dwellers, but that’s how this season from hell has panned out – especially for the Eels.
The Cowboys still cling to some hope of qualifying for the finals, and to be fair, their roster has the potential to deliver a late charge for September.
The Eels season continues to lurch from bad to worse and plumbed new depths in the last up loss to the Knights. Injuries and old fashioned bad luck have added to their woes in a season in which the team have mostly been their own worst enemy.
It’s doubtful that the Eels could land a worse opponent than the Cowboys for a Darwin “home” game. The North Queensland outfit are playing in their part of the world in very familiar conditions to their own base in Townsville. The clash last year saw the Cows hand the Eels a thrashing, with the crowd urging them home.
It’s going to be a huge ask for the Eels to get up for this.
Having a Punt:
This week’s value bet is for Gavin Cooper to score at try at any time, paying $3.00 with TAB Sportsbet.
The first try favourites are listed below:
Eels: George Jennings & Josh Hoffman $12
Cowboys: Kyle Feldt $8 & Antonio Winterstein $9
Feed Your Footy Brain:
This is the fifth year of the Eels taking matches to the Territory, and they’ve won three of their four encounters. The only loss – North Queensland in 2017.
Tracking: Reed Mahoney
It’s been a rapid rise to first grade for Reed “Cash” Mahoney. The 2017 NYC rake is still eligible for Flegg, and has alternated between the 20s and ISP over the opening 13 rounds.
Currently on an NRL Rookie contract, Mahoney’s elevation to the top grade was only possible after the Eels sought dispensation due to injuries to Kaysa Pritchard and Will Smith.
As a member of the full-time squad, the live wire young rake has completed a full pre-season and weekly training with his new team mates, so he won’t be totally unfamiliar with calls and plays.
Mahoney is a high energy dummy-half and isn’t short on confidence. He possesses a kicking game and regularly tops the tackle count. His debut may yet have a bearing on Eels recruitment and retention decisions going into 2019.
Similar to last week, I’m going to avoid the obvious. It requires little imagination to declare that the Eels need to shut down Jason Taumalolo.
Instead, I’m going to nominate Gavin Cooper.
An awkward conveyance to tackle in his own right, the rangy back rower has long formed a lethal edge combination with Johnathan Thurston. Cooper follows his half back and captain everywhere, but especially in the opposition 20 metres. Look for him to chase grubber kicks or be waiting on a short pass right on the line.
Eels: 1 Bevan French, 2 Josh Hoffman, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Jarryd Hayne, 5 George Jennings, 6 Clint Gutherson (c), 7 Corey Norman, 8 Daniel Alvaro, 9 Cameron King, 10 Peni Terepo, 16 David Gower, 12 Brad Takairangi, 13 Nathan Brown
Interchange: 14 Reed Mahoney, 15 Tim Mannah (c), 17 Marata Niukore
Reserves: 18 Siosaia Vave, 19 Suaia Matagi, 20 Jaeman Salmon
Cowboys: 1 Michael Morgan, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Justin O’Neill, 4 Enari Tuala, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 Te Maire Martin, 7 Johnathan Thurston (c), 8 Matthew Scott (c), 9 Jake Granville, 10 Sam Hoare, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Coen Hess, 13 Jason Taumalolo
Interchange: 14 Shaun Fensom, 15 Kane Linnett, 16 Corey Jensen, 17 Ethan Lowe
Reserves: 18 Lachlan Coote, 19 Ben Hampton, 22 Francis Molo
Nathan Brown vs Jason Taumalolo
Let me re-write this heading:
Mr Aggression vs Mr Power
Parramatta’s Nathan Brown was a massive revelation in 2017, with his controlled aggressive play earning him the Ken Thornett Medal in his first season with the club.
Undoubtedly, the Eels have missed his relentless competitiveness during his time on the sidelines. Brown’s defensive shots cause ball players and runners alike to have a look and stutter their attack. Likewise his carries and passing game adds an extra dimension to the Eels pack.
Parra will need Brown to be back to his best ASAP, especially when the rampaging Jason Taumalolo is finding form.
The other JT just seems hungry for running metres listed in the hundreds. His imposing frame earns ridiculous post contact metres in every contest, so it’s not so much a matter of shutting him down as limiting his damage.
Easier said than done!
And The Winner Is:
I’ll be cheering for the Eels, but it’s difficult to tip anything but a Cowboys win. The Eels are so badly out of form, that any person selecting them does so purely relying on their heart.
The match is in the Top End, with a crowd that will get behind the Cows. I’m sure the Eels will lift this week, but the Cowboys should win.
Cowboys 28 – Eels 12
Man of the Match – Johnathan Thurston