Match Day Discussion
Date: Thursday, 19 July, 2018
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Homebush
Kick Off: 7:50 AEST
Head Referee: Henry Perenara
Assistant Referee: Phil Henderson
Head-to-head: Played 143, Bulldogs 76 Eels 62 Drawn 5
Odds: Eels $1.70 Bulldogs $2.20
Broadcast: Foxtel, Nine from 7:30pm
Last Four Encounters:
1. Bulldogs 20 Eels 12 ANZ Stadium – Round 10, 2018
2. Eels 20 Bulldogs 4 ANZ Stadium – Round 22, 2017
3. Eels 13 def Bulldogs 12 ANZ Stadium – Round 17, 2017
4. Eels 20 def Bulldogs 12 ANZ Stadium – Round 9, 2016
The Warm Up:
This is a strange parallel universe that we are inhabiting in 2018. One of rugby league’s greatest rivalries is still a true battle, but in this alternate reality it’s a battle to avoid the wooden spoon.
A win for the Bulldogs makes Parra’s quest to avoid finishing in 16th spot even tougher. A win for the Eels pulls them up equal with their great nemesis and adds some much needed spice to the remaining rounds.
The Bulldogs have played without much luck this season. They’ve been competitive in virtually every game and the recent injection of youth has provided a fillip to a previously staid attack.
In contrast, the Eels losses have less to do with luck and more to do with their errors. No matter the strength of the opposition, they manage to find a performance level just below that of their opponents. This only serves to compound the lack of confidence prevalent in the team.
The Bulldogs always find a way of lifting against the Eels.
The question remains, will it be another Groundhog Day for Parra this week.
Having a Punt:
This week’s value bet (TAB) is in the score and win market – Clint Gutherson to score a try in a Parramatta win @ $4.25.
The first try favourites are listed below:
Eels: Bevan French $9.00
Bulldogs: Brett Morris $9.00
Feed Your Footy Brain
Two young stars in this clash played NYC for their Round 19 opponents. Reimis Smith was originally with the Eels before signing with the Bulldogs, and Reed Mahoney was a mid-season switch from Canterbury to Parra in 2016.
Tracking: Kaysa Pritchard
Welcome back Kaysa. One of rugby league’s most courageous and unluckiest players returns to Parramatta’s NRL team following the injury to Cameron King.
What will Kaysa bring to the team?
Energy and plenty of it. He’s one of the fastest players at the club over 40 metres and has the potential to explode out of dummy half.
Now let’s talk defence. Mr Kamikaze has never fully appreciated the size differential between himself and the typical rugby league forward. It’s almost as if he sets himself a mission to target the largest opposition player with the biggest shot he can muster. It doesn’t always work out too well for Kaysa and his litany of injuries is testimony to his fearless attitude.
The key to getting the best performances out of Kaysa, especially if he’s starting the game, is to ensure he’s doesn’t gas himself too quickly. Perhaps the answer to that is by having a second dummy half on the bench.
Cue “Cash” Mahoney.
Danger man: Rhyse Martin
It will come as no surprise to Forty20 that I’ve nominated Rhyse Martin as the Bulldogs danger man.
The goal kicking forward first came to my attention in a lower grade match at Ringrose Park when he tore Wenty a new one in a dominating performance. What is surprising is how long it’s taken for him to earn a regular first grade jersey.
Martin is a player that keeps himself around the action, and his recent try scoring exploits for the Dogs are indicative of what he can produce. He’s a powerful runner of the football with a surprising turn of pace for a forward.
As he continues to acclimatise himself in the top grade, I expect his confidence to lift and his performances to improve. He’s definitely a player to watch.
Eels: 1 Clint Gutherson (c), 2 Bevan French, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Jarryd Hayne, 5 George Jennings, 6 Corey Norman, 7 Mitchell Moses, 8 Daniel Alvaro, 9 Kaysa Pritchard, 10 Siosaia Vave, 11 Marata Niukore, 12 Brad Takairangi, 13 Nathan Brown
Interchange: 14 Tepai Moeroa, 15 Tim Mannah (c), 16 David Gower, 17 Peni Terepo
Reserves: 18 Kane Evans, 19 Jaeman Salmon, 20 Suaia Matagi, 21 Reed Mahoney
Bulldogs: 1 Will Hopoate, 2 Brett Morris, 3 Josh Morris, 4 Kerrod Holland, 5 Reimis Smith, 6 Lachlan Lewis, 7 Jeremy Marshall-King, 8 Aiden Tolman, 9 Michael Lichaa, 10 David Klemmer, 11 Josh Jackson (c), 12 Rhyse Martin, 13 Adam Elliott
Interchange: 14 Fa’amanu Brown, 15 Clay Priest, 16 Ofahiki Ogden, 17 Danny Fualalo
Reserves: 18 Greg Eastwood, 19 Matthew Frawley, 20 Francis Tualau, 21 John Olive
Clint Gutherson vs Will Hopoate
The two Manly juniors take on the custodian roles for their respective teams.
Will Hopoate has arguably been in much better form for the Dogs than he was in the same role for the Eels. His positional play is outstanding, in both attack and defence, more than compensating for his average pace.
This average pace is key to catching Will Hopoate out in defence. Any team should aim to isolate him in a challenge where he is in a contest of pace – either being confronted by an opposing back in space, or in a race for an attacking kick.
Getting into a situation which tests Hoppa is easier said than done, as the Dogs fullback always seems in control and very much a composed and calming influence in his team. In contrast, Clint Gutherson is a high energy, Mr Everywhere player. Though both Hopoate and Gutherson are wonderful support players, Gutherson is more likely to chance his hand, either with a dart from dummy half or a cut out pass across the backline.
Gutherson’s energy, the source of his success in previous years, may just be working against him in 2018. His role as captain was seen as a natural step given his professionalism and leadership qualities. However, the high standards he places on himself, and the energy he plays with, seem to be conspiring together in bringing on some uncharacteristic errors. His body language is screaming out doubt and disappointment and this is not the Gutho Eels fans are used to seeing.
The Eels need a confident Clint Gutherson at fullback this week.
And The Winner Is?
At the risk of upsetting TCT followers who hate seeing that “Sixties Jinx” imposed on the Eels, I have to tip with my head.
It’s the Eels in a canter.
The Dogs have deserved better results, and their form has been solid. Nonetheless, the last few weeks would have taken its toll on their team. Young players are capable of lifting for a week or two, but it’s a big ask for an inexperienced footballer to produce NRL quality football over multiple rounds.
The Eels have shown glimpses of their best attacking plays in recent weeks, only to self destruct. I’m expecting them to lift massively for this grudge match and to go on with the job in recording a lop-sided score.
Eels 38 – Bulldogs 16
Man of the Match – Mitch Moses