Match Day Discussion
Date: Sunday, 6th October, 2019
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park
Kick Off: 7:20 pm AEST
Head Referee: Grant Atkins
Assistant Referee: Ashley Klein
Head-to-head: Played 133, Eels 64 Roosters 64 Drawn 5
Odds: Eels $1.85 Roosters $2.00
Broadcast: Nine from 6:30pm, Match Day from 1:00pm
Last Encounter: Eels 26 def Roosters 16 Western Sydney Stadium – Finals Week 1
The Warm Up
What a year!
After the 2018 disaster, who would have envisaged that the 2019 season would see the Eels rise from cellar dwellers to Grand finalists.
This year has seen our Eels surge into the Top 4 via the injection of incredibly talented youth, selective recruitment, a fortunate run with injuries, and a return to a true home ground. The average home attendance of just over 21,000 has set a new record for Parramatta, and along the way provided a colourful and motivating backdrop for the team.
There can be no denying the rise and rise of halfback Dylan Brown. After a steady start to the season, he’s been the catalyst for a resurgent Eels attack. A combined 59 tries to the back three of Ferguson, Sivo and Hayne is testimony to the brand of football played by the Eels.
What we’re uncertain about, even at this late stage, is how the front row rotation will be worked for this match. Brad Arthur has been a bit horses for courses this season as he’s mixed and matched Paulo, Utoikamanu, Mannah and Alvaro. I believe he’ll stay with the listed starting pair of Paulo and Alvaro.
The ever consistent Roosters didn’t fluke their way to the minor premiership this year. They are about to feature in consecutive grand finals because they have strength right across the park. Young guns Crichton and Radley have combined superbly this year. What they lack in brute size they make up for in their aggressive attitude.
But without question, centres Mitchell and Manu have been a class act throughout 2019. If the Eels are to win this match, they’ll need to ensure that they limit the opportunities given to these two superstars.
Buckle up NRL fans. The stage is set. This grand final is going to be a pearler!
Having a Punt:
This week’s value bet (TAB) is in the line/over under double. Take the Eels giving away 2.5 points start with over 38 points in the match @$3.95
The first try favourites are listed below:
Eels: Ferguson – $9
Roosters: Mitchell – $10
Feed Your Footy Brain
The Eels won their first premiership in their 35th year in the premiership, losing two grand finals along the way. It’s been 33 years since their last premiership, and they’ve lost two grand finals in the meantime. Are they ready to break another drought?
Tracking: Dylan Brown
This section could just as easily highlight the rookie Eels spine, after all, few would have predicted the success enjoyed by the combination of Brown, Salmon and Mahoney. For such inexperienced players to not only endure the rigours of the NRL as a unit, but to excel, is simply unheard of.
However, for the purpose of this preview the focus will be on Brown.
The 2019 NRL Rookie of the Year has definitely left his mark on the Premiership. In Brown’s debut season, the Kiwi selectors are already looking at combining both himself and Johnson in the test team. And it’s easy to understand why.
Targeted in defence throughout the season, the young half has proven time and again that he is both tough and strong. His highlights reel already features a collection of one-on-one try saves, not to mention a couple of moments when he drove some big men backwards in the impact of his tackles.
In attack, Brown has been fearless in taking on the line, and on a number of occasions demonstrated his pace after breaking through the defence. Indeed, his try tally would have been much higher if not for his unselfish attitude which set up his support players to cross the line.
It’s been a long time since the Eels have fielded such exciting young talent in the halves – and when that last happened it delivered a string of premierships. Just saying…..
Danger man: Latrell Mitchell
After this year’s Origin and Premiership performances, there’s little doubt that Latrell Mitchell has become the NSW answer to Greg Inglis. And it’s not just the similarity in his imposing physical attributes.
Mitchell dominates opposing centres in the manner that only GI has done before. Whether it be by fend, step, pace or sheer force, his superiority over others out wide has been the springboard for many Roosters victories and delivered the Blues with back to back Origins. As the cream to his skill set, a 85% success rate with his kicking has seen his teams jump by 6 with most tries scored.
The key to shutting Mitchell down is to remove any early opportunities in the game. As a confidence player, every chance taken seems to provide the fillip for the next. Therefore, the longer he can be kept out of the game, the less likely he’ll be to impose himself on the outcome. Hopefully frustration will kick in.
Can the Eels shut him down? That question can only be answered by Gutherson and Lane.
Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Joseph Manu 5. Ryan Hall 6. Luke Keary 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Sio Siua Taukeiaho 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Angus Crichton 13. Victor Radley
Interchange: 14. Mitch Aubusson 15. Dylan Napa 16. Isaac Liu 17. Zane Tetavano 18. Brett Morris 19. Nat Butcher 20.Lachlan Lam 21. Lindsay Collins
Eels: 1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Clint Gutherson 5.Blake Ferguson 6. Jaeman Salmon 7. Dylan Brown 8. Junior Paulo 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Daniel Alvaro 11. Shaun Lane 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Nathan Brown
Interchange: 14. Marata Niukore 15. Tim Mannah 16. Stefano Utoikamanu 17. Peni Terepo 18. Ray Stone 19. Oregon Kaufusi 20. Ethan Parry 21. Kaysa Pritchard
Jarryd Hayne vs James Tedesco
Will the battle of the fullbacks decide this contest?
This is unquestionably a clash of two class players. Who will bring the extra brilliance this Sunday?
James Tedesco has gone from strength to strength since joining the Roosters. The dynamic custodian has cemented himself in both the NSW and Australian teams, winning a host of match awards along the way.
Tedesco has always been renowned for his support play and his ability to break the line. However, it’s been his ball play which has come to the fore this year as he’s played like an extra halfback around the ruck in addition to providing another dimension to block plays with his selective cut out passes.
Tedesco will be attempting to outgun a revitalised Jarryd Hayne.
Many people have pointed to the importance of Jarryd Hayne in guiding an inexperienced Eels spine throughout 2019. Though he hasn’t produced the showreel content of 2009, it’s his mature leadership and calm presence that’s been his signature throughout the season.
That’s not to say that he hasn’t enjoyed his share of star moments. After crossing for 21 tries this year, he’s proven that he still possesses the pace and flair that’s always been a hallmark of his game.
Importantly, this season has gone a long way towards re-establishing the legacy that he built prior to his departure to the NFL
This match up between such talented players is almost worth the price of admission on its own.
And The Winner Is?
The Eels can’t afford to be content with reaching the grand final. It’s been far too long between drinks and history has shown that this is only the third time in the last 33 years that the Blue and Golds have appeared in the decider. In other words – they have to grab this opportunity because it might not happen again for some time.
How will this match be approached?
The Roosters have finals football in their DNA. They have a team full of experience and know what the “big dance” is all about. They won’t be overawed when kick off time approaches. Robinson will have them primed to play.
Back in 2001, Brian Smith tried to keep it like business as usual. Unfortunately, he had a team that wasn’t able to handle the occasion, and his record breaking Eels were blown off the park during the first half by a Knights team pumped up with self belief.
In 2009, the Eels acquitted themselves well against a Storm team that was later stripped of the title for salary cap cheating. It was said that Hayne had a quiet match that day, but he could hardly be criticised for that season.
The Eels need to compete in the manner that they have all season to emerge as Premiers. They can’t allow the big stage to overawe them, yet at the same time they have to embrace the atmosphere that comes with a grand final and find another level.
As Eels supporters, we’ve enjoyed this season but it’s time for something more.
Eels to win by 8
Eels 28 Roosters 20
Man of the Match – Jarryd Hayne