Date: Saturday, June 15, 2019
Venue: BankWest Stadium, Parramatta
Kick Off: 7:35pm
Referees: Henry Perenara, Liam Kennedy
Head-to-head: Played 57 Eels 21 Broncos 33 Drawn 3
Odds: Eels $1.80 Broncos $2.05
Broadcast: Foxtel, Kayo
Last Four Encounters:
Broncos 18 Eels 10 Suncorp Stadium (2019)
Eels 52 Broncos 34 Suncorp Stadium (2017)
Eels 28 Broncos 14 ANZ Stadium (2017)
Broncos 38 Eels 16 Suncorp Stadium (2017)
The Warm Up
After another false dawn against the Rabbitohs, the Eels reminded everyone of of their lack of resilience in a second half capitulation against the Sharks.
If images of the Sharks bench laughing on the sideline with ten minutes to go aren’t embarrassing enough, Paul Gallen opened the wound and poured in salt when he declared that it wasn’t a tough game physically and agreed with Phil Gould’s suggestion that the Sharks clocked off due to boredom.
There should be no subtlety in responding to these remarks. The Eels forwards have been insulted and ridiculed. They’ve been publicly called soft by an opponent. The Parra pack won’t get a chance to respond to the Sharks, but they can demand respect via their on-field performances from this point onwards.
The Broncos boast some of the brightest young forwards in the game, with Haas, Pangai Junior and Fifita laying the platform alongside Lodge and Gillett.
Having so much youth in the team has its risks, and the Broncos inconsistent performances are probably to be expected. Throw in a new coach and it was more like a certainty. But brighter times are on the horizon and I’ll be locking Brisbane in for a top 8 position next season.
It’s been a tumultuous week for the Eels after the headlines generated by Tim Mannah’s attempts to seek an immediate release.
Fortunately, it’s a return to BankWest Stadium.
It might just be the telling factor.
Having a Punt
Last week once again proved to be so near and yet so far for anyone following the punting tip. The suggested NSW TAB special bet coupling Feki or Sivo to be either first or second try scorer @$3.00 came so very close, with Sivo crossing for the third try.
This week I’m steering away from special offers and returning to a favourite market of mine – the line/over under double. Take Parra giving away 1.5 points coupled with over 38.5 total match points @$3.40.
The favourites in the first try scorer market are:
Eels: Ferguson $10 Sivo $10
Broncos: Oates $9 Isaako $10
Feed Your Footy Brain
The Eels have a decent overall record against the Broncos, especially in recent seasons.
The last ten clashes have been split, five apiece.
The two sides have clashed seven times during Arthur’s tenure at the Eels, with the Broncos just ahead by four wins to three.
Both Arthur and Seibold spent part of their formative coaching years under Craig Bellamy at the Melbourne Storm.
Tracking: Michael Jennings
Although Michael Jennings is one of the Eels oldest players, he is arguably one of their most consistent performers in 2019.
In a team struggling for any semblance of consistency this season, Jenko has completely turned around an atrocious 2018.
The blistering acceleration and evasion have returned and the former Origin star currently leads the Eels for tackle breaks – at an average of 3.3 per game.
In only half a season, Sivo and Jenko have formed a lethal left side combination that the Eels would surely be trying to lock up for the next couple of years.
If the Eels get up this weekend, that left side is certain to have featured prominently.
Danger man: Corey Oates
Tall, fast, powerful. To be specific, he’s 192cm and 105kg – the Broncos winger is built like a back rower but his long strides make him deceptively quick.
At just 24 years of age, Oates already boast 133 NRL appearances and 90 tries. And we’ve seen examples of his athleticism throughout his career.
From long range tries, to spectacular, gravity defying dives into the corner, Oates offers a range of attacking weapons out wide. With a frame that has him towering over most opponents, the high ball to his wing is always an option for Broncos kickers.
Oates is currently averaging 158 running metres per game, and his charges are crucial for Brisbane’s set starts. His 3.5 tackle breaks per game place him third in the Bronco’s list, sitting just behind Haas and Bird.
As a left winger, Oates will be lining up against Blake Ferguson. The Eels recruit has been near faultless off bombs this year, but Oates will offer another level of competition.
You can just sense that both wingers will be up for it.
Eels: 1. Clint Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Josh Hoffman 5. Blake Ferguson 6.Jaeman Salmon 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Kane Evans 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11.Shaun Lane 12. Manu Ma’u 13. Nathan Brown
Interchange: 14. Ray Stone 15. Peni Terepo 16. David Gower 17. Marata Niukore 18. Daniel Alvaro 19. Tepai Moeroa 20. Brad Takairangi 21. Will Smith
Broncos: Darius Boyd 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Gehamat Shibasaki 5. Jamayne Isaako 6.Anthony Milford 7. Sean O’Sullivan 8. Matthew Lodge 9. Jake Turpin 10. Payne Haas 11.David Fifita 12. Matt Gillett 13. Tevita Pangai
Interchange: 14. Andrew McCullough 15. Jaydn Su’A 16.Thomas Flegler 17. Patty Carrigan 18. Richard Kennar 19. Shaun Fensom 20. Patrick Mago 21. James Segeyaro
Eels Middle vs Everyone
Ridiculed by their opposition, criticised by commentators, lambasted by some of their own fans – the Eels middle are firmly in the spotlight this week.
Parra sit at or near the bottom of the NRL in key metrics such as run metres conceded, missed tackles and ineffective tackles. Many of these numbers are either produced directly in the middle third or eventuate from the spaces created via problems in that part of the field.
Make no mistake, issues such as line speed, contact, wrestle, getting off the ground and communication are focus areas at training. But when it comes to finding resilience or effort on effort on game day, the Eels have been on a fortnightly shift.
Turning up this week is the immediate task. Turning up every week must be the goal.
The Broncos forwards have the youthful energy, the size and the talent to throw eighty minutes of challenges at the Eels.
Will the Parra forwards step up?
Only they know the answer.
And The Winner Is?
Last week I correctly tipped the Sharks. But I did so believing that it would be a decent contest.
So basically I was right about the Sharks but wrong about the Eels.
And yet, after such a horrible display, Parramatta enters Round 14 clinging on to 8th place.
This week could either galvanise the club or send its season spiralling into the Premiership abyss. And what a week it’s been.
The media have ripped into the club over its performances.
The players have been ridiculed by the opposition and critics.
The club captain has sought a release.
Ridiculous rumours have circulated privately and on social media.
And yet the team has been through much worse – see the 2016 season.
The last time I successfully tipped Parra, I did so without a firm reason. I called it “the vibe”.
After selecting the Sharks last week, I’ve reversed my tip this week and taken the Eels.
The team will step up this week. Should they be beaten, it will be because the Broncos have earned the victory.
Eels 32 Broncos 16
Man of the Match – Shaun Lane