Date: Sunday, 14th April, 2019
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick Off: 6:10pm
Head Referee: Henry Perenara
Assistant Referee: Tim Roby
Head-to-head: Played 59 Eels 27 Raiders 30 Drawn 2
Odds: Eels $2.40 Raiders $1.56
Last Four Encounters:
Raiders 18 Eels 2 GIO Stadium (2018)
Raiders 22. Eels 16 ANZ Stadium (2017)
Raiders 30 Eels 18 GIO Stadium (2017)
Raiders 28 Eels 18 GIO Stadium (2016)
The Warm Up
The Eels hurled one King-Kong sized monkey off their back in Round 4 in their 24-12 victory over the Cronulla Sharks. Round 5 presents them with a similar opportunity as they look to simultaneously secure a berth in the Top 4 and end an obnoxious losing streak in the nation’s capital that stretches back to 2007. The Raiders, much like the Sharks, have been a bogey team for the Eels in the modern era. Additionally the Raiders, much like the Eels, have enjoyed a terrific 3-1 start to their 2019 campaign – positioning this fixture on Sunday night as match of the round.
Who would have thought that coming into this year?
Having a Punt
Unlike Sixties, I am an awful tipster so do not listen to any advice I give. Feel free to share any hot tips in the comments however.
The favourites for first try scorer are listed below:
Eels: Ferguson $9.50 Sivo $10.00
Raiders: Rapana $8.00 Cotric $8.50
Feed Your Footy Brain
Parramatta’s injury issues have sort of flown under the radar in the national media. Nathan Brown, Dylan Brown, Manu Ma’u and Tepai Moeroa have all missed time in the first month of the NRL. Indeed, Round 5 potentially marks the first time this season that the Eels have been able to field the exact same line-up in consecutive weeks.
Perhaps this week’s little slice of roster consistency will aid in their pursuit of victory against one of the other red-hot teams currently in the NRL.
Tracking: Reed Mahoney
After logging his first 80-min game of the season, Reed Mahoney now has to back up against one of the premier rakes in the NRL in Josh Hodgson. While Mick Ennis may be in raptures about his efforts so far this year, Reed has been somewhat overlooked in the buzz surrounding Clinton Gutherson, Mitchell Moses and Dylan Brown.
In spite of that he has quickly solidified his position in the starting team and built on the promising signs first shown late last year. His slick service has enabled the Eels to attack with reckless abandon down both edges while his timely darts and clearing kicks have served to ease pressure on both his fellow forwards and play-makers.
Another rock-solid game from ‘Cash’ Mahoney will undoubtedly put the Eels right in the contest, a big game could be one of the keys to victory.
Danger man: Jordan Rapana
John Bateman could have easily landed in this section after the Englishman’s sensational start to his NRL career but Jordan Rapana has terrorised the Eels for the last few years so he claims top billing.
Surprisingly, Rapana has only scored twice against the Eels in the Brad Arthur-era but he almost always won the head-to-head match-up against Semi Radradra comfortably. Canberra and Rapana’s frustrating ability to largely neutralise one of the Eels’ most devastating weapons has been a major factor in losses to the Green Machine in the last five years.
The seemingly paltry total of two tries belies the damage he has done on the field as well with BJ Leilua and Blake Austin both profiting handsomely from Rapana’s outstanding work on the right sideline. Maika Sivo will be tasked with trying to put a lid on Canberra’s freakish flanker but hopefully a more balanced Parramatta outfit can secure the win elsewhere on the field.
Eels : 1. Clint Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Brad Takairangi 5.Blake Ferguson 6. Jaeman Salmon 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Daniel Alvaro 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Marata Niukore 13. Tepai Moeroa
Interchange: 14. Peni Terepo 15. Tim Mannah 16. Kane Evans 17. Oregon Kaufusi 18. David Gower 19. Ray Stone 20. Josh Hoffman 21. Bevan French
Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6.Jack Wighton 7. Sam Williams 8. Josh Papalii 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Dynamis Lui 11. John Bateman 12. Elliot Whitehead 13. Ryan Sutton
Interchange: 14. Sivila Havili 15.Hudson Young 16. Iosia Soliola 17. Joseph Tapine 18. Royce Hunt 19. Aidan Sezer 20.Bailey Simonsson 21. JJ Collins
The Big Clash: Clinton Gutherson vs Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
The Eels were the first team to get a look at Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad in Canberra colours when the hosted the Raiders in the preseason. Since then the ex-Warrior has been something of a pleasant surprise for Ricky Stuart in the custodial role with his neat defence under the high-ball and ability to finish a backline movement.
The Raiders aren’t the only team happy with their fullback though with Clinton Gutherson is enjoying a run of career-best form over the first four rounds of 2019. Gutherson, who is still locked in contract talks with the club, has had a hand in everything for the Eels. Averaging over 200m on the ground with some gaudy try-assist numbers to his name, Gutherson has been nothing short of electric.
While both players will likely be enabled by both their forward packs and halves come Sunday night, I have little doubt that a handful of key exchanges in the game will rest in their hands.
And The Winner Is?
I am riding the Eels home here, even with the colossal weight of that monkey on their back. Brad Arthur’s men have proven to be equal parts resilient and enterprising in their big bounce back season. I feel like the Eels have been more impressive in their comparative three victories to start the season and with better talent across key positions in the likes of Gutherson and Moses I think the Eels can prevail and claim a spot in the Top 4.
Eels 26 Raiders 14
Man of the Match – Blake Ferguson