The Cumberland Throw

The Preview – Round 22, 2019: Eels vs Bulldogs

Date: Thursday, August 22, 2019

Venue: BankWest Stadium, Parramatta

Kick Off: 7:50pm

Referees: Grant Atkins, Peter Gough

Head-to-head: Played 156 Eels 67 Bulldogs 83 Drawn 6

Odds: Eels $1.33 Bulldogs $3.40

Broadcast: Nine, Fox League, Kayo

Last Four Encounters:

Eels 36 Bulldogs 16 ANZ Stadium (2019)

Eels 14 Bulldogs 8 ANZ Stadium (2018)

Bulldogs 20 Eels 12 ANZ Stadium (2018)

Eels 20 Eels 4 ANZ Stadium (2017)

 

The Warm Up

A rivalry without rival.

That catchphrase, used to promote Origin footy, could just as easily be used to describe the history between these two western Sydney clubs.

Success for the Eels and the Bulldogs has been tough to find in recent seasons, but both teams come into this clash in strong form. The Eels have won eight of their last ten matches, whilst the Bulldogs have emerged victorious in five of their last seven.

The defensive numbers are worth noting. The Eels and Bulldogs both concede an average of just over 20 points per match. However, over the last three rounds, each team has limited their opposition to an average of just 10 points per game.

For mine, the Bulldogs have delivered a very similar match plan throughout 2019. Though they generate plenty of offloads, they play conservatively on the back of this, producing the second lowest line breaks, and the lowest tackle breaks in the NRL.

The result – 276 points for the season (or just over 13 points per game).

In contrast, the Eels have unleashed one of the most potent attacks in the NRL, racking up 479 points (an average of just under 23 points per game).

Can the Bulldogs shut down the Eels attack?

Will the Eels stay composed against the Dogs high completion rate?

Boasting two of the most passionate supporter bases, even within the same families, the big matches have drawn massive crowds, notably the near 75000 crowd for the 2009 preliminary final. A Thursday night time slot is not conducive to sell out crowds, but I’m expecting a vocal twenty thousand plus attendance this week.

The Eels faithful need to get loud and drown out the Bulldogs drums.

Those on the corporate side, get ready to rattle your jewellery.

Bring. It. On!

 

Having A Punt

Ugh!

How tough has it been to find value in the punt lately? I must be the only person not winning when backing Maika Sivo to score tries!

I’m not going to back him three weeks in a row, so it’s time to dip back into the well which has delivered more often than not in 2019 – the line/over under double. Take the Eels conceding 9.5 start, coupled with over 36.5 total match points @$3.30.

The favourites in the first try scorer market are:

Eels: Sivo $8 Takairangi $10

Bulldogs: Meaney $13 Smith $13

 

Feed Your Footy Brain

The Eels have won six of their last seven matches against the Bulldogs, but incredibly with the matches staged at ANZ Stadium, there hasn’t been a true home and away fixture between the teams since 2007. This will continue in 2020 when the Dogs shift their matches to BankWest.

Parramatta have only experienced one defeat on their home turf this season, and this has become a significant advantage.

The Bulldogs have won their only “home game” at BankWest, defeating the only team to beat Parra at home – the Panthers.

 

Tracking: Michael Jennings

How important is Michael Jennings to the Eels team?

Jenko

The former representative centre has had an interrupted season, only playing in 14 of the 21 matches this season, and he’s looked to be physically hampered in his most recent games after returning from injury.

That said, Jennings in full flight is still a vision of magnificence. He fairly glides across the turf, and defences struggle to keep up with him over 40 metres.

A measure of Jennings potency in attack can be found in the tackle break stats – with Jennings being the leading Eel with an average of 3.1 per game.

And defence? A noted talker, his return is music to the ears of a rookie such as Maika Sivo.

Expect their combination to shine in the big end of season games.

 

Danger Man: Corey Harawira-Naera

It seems to have taken some time for Harawira-Naera to find his feet at the Bulldogs, but judging by the havoc he created last week running off Foran, he’s starting to fulfil the promise created by his Panthers form.

His 2019 stats aren’t anything to write home about. He averages just 73.7 running metres per game, and 1.4 tackle breaks. No doubt such returns have been impacted by his time off the bench and the Dogs own struggles with attack.

And the articulate back rower has been honest in assessing his early season form. Speaking on radio last Sunday, he suggested an examination of his missed tackle statistic was indicative of why he struggled to hold a place in the starting line up.

If the Eels let Foran find time on the edges, Harawira-Naera will run rampant.

 

Team Lists:

Eels: 1. Clint Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Waqa Blake 5. Brad Takairangi 6.Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Kane Evans 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Manu Ma’u 13. Nathan Brown

Interchange: 14. Peni Terepo 15. David Gower 16. Daniel Alvaro 17. Marata Niukore 18. Tepai Moeroa 19. George Jennings 20. Stefano Utoikamanu 21.Jaeman Salmon

Bulldogs: 1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2. Nick Meaney 3. Kerrod Holland 4. Will Hopoate 5. Reimis Smith 6. Kieran Foran 7. Lachlan Lewis 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Corey Harawira-Naera 13. Adam Elliott

Interchange: 14. Jack Cogger 15. Renouf To’omaga 16. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 17. Chris Smith 19. Danny Fualalo 20. Morgan Harper 21. Michael Lichaa 22. Ofahiki Ogden

 

Junior Paulo vs Dylan Napa

There’s little doubt that the Eels middle have delivered more punch in attack this season, and big Junz can take a chunk of the credit.

Junior

Paulo has averaged 120 running metres per game, with an impressive season high of 180 metres. Add in a team leading 2.4 offloads per match, and 1.7 tackle breaks and you have a prop providing both a strong platform as well as a point of difference in attack.

Throw in Nathan Brown and Kane Evans as the Eels starting middles and you have three different body types and three different skill sets.

Standing opposite Paulo in this clash, big Pappy – Dylan Napa, brings plenty of aggression. The home movie star has comparable run metres to Junior’s (116.4 per game) but he doesn’t pose the same type of attacking threat, with only 0.5 offloads and 1.1 tackle breaks.

Likewise, Napa’s starting front row partner, Aiden Tolman, is a noted workhorse but not a gifted ball-player.

Power and second phase vs workhorses. Who will provide the better platform?

 

And The Winner Is?

I’m strangely confident this week.

The form guide tells you that the Bulldogs will be no pushover, but I’ve also seen a succession of teams fail to respect the boys from Belmore and this has been paramount in their last few rounds. If teams just roll up, expect to win, and fail to get things right in their own backyard, the Dogs play the type of footy that will scrap out a win.

In recent weeks, the Eels have learned to get the little things right before going for the big plays. Kicks to the corners, kick chases, field position, line speed, completions – wins come on the back of the boring stuff like this. The Eels even learned a lesson in the first half against the Titans when firing too many big shots and turning over possession, but the second half was both clinical and explosive.

If the Eels lay the platform through the middle, and they are sitting second for running metres, Mitchell Moses will create opportunities for his talented crew of backs.

Last week looked like grand final celebrations for the Dogs. The quick turn around will be tough for them.

I’m tipping a comfortable win for the Eels.

Eels 42 Bulldogs 10

Man of the Match – Mitch Moses

Eels forever!

Sixties

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JonBoy
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JonBoy

Those on the corporate side have plenty of voice and will be using it to maximum effect tomorrow night, at least this little blue and gold eyed one will be! Foran is the danger man for me. He was very good last week so if he can get through the warm up without injury we will need to take time and space away from him. I think it’s time for DBrown to show us a bit more of what he’s got. I’m looking for him to get a bit more involved tomorrow. I’m always nervous thanks to 2018 scars but… Read more »

Graz
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Graz

Sixties, I am also very confident. Hope it’s not misplaced! Really can’t see us losing. Just think we have too many points of attacking firepower, plus the defensive mindset to restrict the Bulldogs attack which lacks any potent variety.

Jeremy Henson
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Jeremy Henson

Thanks Sixties
Do you know what has happened to Kyle Schneider? – been missing for more than a month from JF

The rev aka Snedden
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The rev aka Snedden

Don’t Wana be picky but your head to head is confusing. Head-to-head: Played 156 Eels 67 Bulldogs 83 Drawn 6 Odds: Eels $1.33 Bulldogs $3.40 Broadcast: Nine, Fox League, Kayo Last Four Encounters: Eels 36 Bulldogs 16 ANZ Stadium (2019) Eels 14 Bulldogs 8 ANZ Stadium (2018) Bulldogs 20 Eels 12 ANZ Stadium (2018) ( Eels 20 Eels 4 ANZ Stadium (2017) ✓ 🤔🤔did we play our reserve grade side 😂 What we have to do is make good inroads thru the middle. Once we do that only then can we start offloading the ball to our outside back’s to… Read more »

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

Good assessment Sixties, I think the only way we will lose tomorrow night is if the 19th man turns up, Complacency. I doubt he will but needs to be marked very strongly Foran and Hoppa both ex eels may have a point to prove, and Hoppa has not been too bad for the dogs of late maybe building for this game. I am looking to see the old combo of DB and Lane get back to their combinations seen early in the year, if they can get that back it will go a long way to helping us win and… Read more »

Jetta
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Jetta

Dewy conditions could bring the teams closer together and make it turn into an ugly bog fest. Beware.

Milo
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Milo

Not as confident Sixties I predict a 22-12 score. Just hope we can put in a solid 80.

DDay
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DDay

The Eels will have to earn the win, the Bulldog defend well and value possession, so little chance of them gifting field position. The Eels middle forwards are playing well collectively and if they get the little things right as you say Sixties we should score too many points for them; Eels 4 tries to 2.

BDon
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BDon

As you say sixties, the key to this game is not to fall away in the basics. On form, the Dogs would be hard to peg back if we allow their grinding rhythm too much air. The thing with Foran is he seems to always produce a couple of high class plays that can be the difference in low scoring or tight games, but if we match them in the basics I’m not thinking low score or tight result.