After a shellacking on Monday night the Parramatta Eels will look to win back some credibility as they host neighbours the Penrith Panthers at Parramatta Stadium. Join us for live scores and commentary from 5.30pm AEST.
Whilst the last couple of years have not held a lot to celebrate for Eels fans, Monday night’s loss to Manly was one of their lowest points as a Sea Eagles team who barely seemed to get out of second gear were able to put 50 points on Ricky Stuart’s charges.
To make things worse Parramatta prop forward Mitchell Allgood was also involved in an ugly striking incident close to full time, which has earned him a couple of weeks suspension and has many questioning whether the pressure has started to get to Parra.
Their opponents Penrith on the other hand have continued to defy expectations, and after a big win over the Gold Coast last weekend thanks to a scintillating second half of football, the Panthers are sitting on the cusp of the top eight and daring to dream.
The mountain men will look to continue their streak tonight, but would be well aware that the Eels will be treating this match as their grand final.
With no players involved in the Origin series the Panthers have the luxury of being an extremely settled unit, with the only change for this week being New Zealand international Lewis Brown returning to take Clint Newton’s spot in the starting side.
For Parramatta though there has been a glut of changes, the most well publicised being the demotion of out of form halfback Chris Sandow to NSW Cup, replaced by Ben Roberts.
In some good news for the blue and golds however Willie Tonga is back from injury and will take his place in the team, and his experience will be pivotal to halting a Panthers backline that ran riot last weekend.
Whilst coach Stuart has described his team as a work in progress and believes there is light at the end of the tunnel for Parramatta, it’s hard to see them getting the two points this evening.
With Walsh and John pulling the strings and some pace out wide, the Panthers should be too good for the Eels and pull away after a close opening.
Still, I guess you never know in a local derby.
Panthers by 12.