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The Parramatta Eels will look to keep their strong start to 2019 and cement their place well inside the NRL’s top eight when they face the Melbourne Storm in the final Saturday game at magic round. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 7:35pm (AEDT).
The Eels have been one of the surprise packets throughout the first two months of the competition, and have been richly rewarded, sitting just outside the top four with a third of the season in the books.
It looked like their bubble was finally starting to burst last week at their new home ground against the St George Illawarra Dragons, however, a second half of the ages ensured they would claim the competition points once again.
The men in blue and gold have been phenomenal throughout the first eight rounds after widely being tipped to miss the top eight, and while there has been hardly a bad player, it’s been the form of Mitchell Moses and Clint Gutherson which has been turning heads.
While they have been given the time and space needed by the forwards to do their thing, they have done it to perfection more often than not.
The Eels should take a lot of positives into this encounter with the purple horde, given the Storm have really struggled with ball security and attacking flair this year.
Those areas can be increasingly painful when up against a good pack, and so if the Storm don’t start strongly, it could be another one of those games where, unless Cameron Smith stands up in the second half, their attack ends up looking like a lost cause as they attempt to hang onto the game.
Their loss to the Storm last week was a big one in the context of the season. The performance was an uncharacteristic one, to say the least, and another like that will see them fall to the Eels.
However, there are positives. For the most part, they have been starting games well, and their forwards have been doing a job for them.
While their wins have been predominantly close, they haven’t been playing bad footy – but rather, unappealing footy with a lot of errors. If they can cut them out and put the Eels to the sword, then the susceptible Parramatta defensive line could be breached again and again.
If not, this becomes a real war of attrition, and while the Sharks were an exception eight days ago, it’s rare Melbourne lose those battles.
Hard to tip against the Storm, despite the form of Parramatta.
Storm by 10.
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Kick-off: 7:35pm (AEST)
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
TV: Live, Fox League 502
Online: Live, Foxtel Now, Foxtel App, Kayo Sports, NRL Digital Pass
Betting: Storm $1.46, Eels $2.75
Overall record: Played 34, Storm 21, Eels 13
Last meeting: Round 23, 2018 – Storm 20 defeat Eels 4 at AAMI Park, Melbourne
Last five: Storm 3, Eels 2
Referees: Henry Perenara, Jon Stone
1. Jahrome Hughes, 2. Suliasi Vunivalu, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Marion Seve, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Brodie Croft, 8. Jesse Bromwich, 9. Cameron Smith, 10. Christian Welch, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Kenneath Bromwich, 13. Dale Finucane
Interchange: 14. Brandon Smith, 15. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 16. Tui Kamikamica, 17. Ryan Papenhuyzen, 18. Billy Walters, 19. Patrick Kaufusi, 20. Joe Stimson, 21. Curtis Scott
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. Oregon Kaufusi, 17. Manu Ma’u, 18. Ray Stone, 19. Kane Evans, 20. Will Smith, 21. George Jennings