The Parramatta Eels are off to a flying start under new coach Ricky Stuart but face an early litmus test against rivals Canterbury Bulldogs tonight. Join us for live scores and commentary from 8.00pm AEDT.
Stuart could not have asked for a more perfect start to his coaching career at the Eels last week.
Key stars Jarryd Hayne and Chris Sandow played exceptionally well as Parramatta thumped the Warriors 40-10 at home.
For the first time in many moons, the Eels finally managed to click in attack and were also very strong in defence.
As good as Parramatta were however, the Warriors were equally as dreadful and at times looked like a team that is destined to claim the wooden spoon.
New Zealand offered no resistance against Parramatta’s up tempo play and the Eels were allowed to dictate terms.
That will not happen tonight against the Bulldogs.
Despite missing a host of stars last week, the Bulldogs were very competitive in their 12-point defeat to the Cowboys and possess the potential to bring Parramatta back to earth if the Eels are not careful.
It’s only round two but tonight’s contest could very well dictate whether or not the Eels are a realistic chance of making the finals.
If there is one team Parramatta loves to beat, it is the Bulldogs, and a win tonight over their great rivals may just spark the Eels to life for the rest of the season.
Beating Canterbury however will be easier said than done, even when they are under-strength.
The Bulldogs were missing regular stars Ben Barba, Sam Kasiano, James Graham and Frank Pritchard in their loss to the Cowboys last week, but they still managed to push a team many expect to challenge for the premiership.
Although all four players remain sidelined tonight, the likes of Greg Eastwood, Tony Williams, Michael Ennis and Josh Morris should still pose plenty of problems for Parramatta’s defence if the Eels fall back to old habits.
Canterbury’s lack of an x-factor in attack may once again prove their downfall against a Parramatta unit being led by in-form stars Hayne and Sandow.
Hayne scored a hat-trick of tries last week while Sandow was also very strong, scoring 16 points in an assured display from the halfback.
Given the amount of attacking class the Bulldogs still have on the sidelines, a fit and firing Hayne and Sandow should provide the Eels with enough spark to cause the upset.
Eels by six.