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In what could prove to be the game of the round, the surprisingly strong Parramatta Eels take on the Cronulla Sharks at Homebush. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 7:35pm (AEDT).
The Eels have been one of the surprise packets so far this year.
After taking out the wooden spoon in 2018 and being tipped by a wide majority to do something pretty similar this year, they have picked up some surprising wins are were very strong in a loss against the Sydney Roosters last weekend.
It’s been a complete shift of attitude and culture at the club, with their new recruits leading the way as they attempt to build a defensive brick wall and build off the back of that.
Of course, the Roosters were objectively their first real challenge of the year, but with an improved defence, Mitchell Moses and Clint Gutherson playing well, and a better attack, they made the defending premiers nervous.
Their wins came over the Penrith Panthers and Canterbury Bulldogs, but they will have to front up to play the Sharks without Dylan Brown, who has been outstanding to start his career in the halves over the last couple of weeks.
On the other side, the Sharks have been doing what they do best, grinding teams out of games and trying to win by having the better forward pack.
They haven’t been absolutely perfect, but recovering from the loss of Valentine Holmes, they haven’t been far away. Shaun Johnson playing off a consistently strong forwards pack has been a joy to watch, while Chad Townsend’s kicking game has also been rock solid.
This match is going to be won in the forwards though, so the Sharks will need to continue playing at the level they have set so far this year over the Titans and Cowboys in the last two weeks.
They will be, however, without Matt Moylan this week, as Bronson Xerri makes his debut in the centres and Josh Dugan shifts to the back.
Tipping this match is splitting hairs. It’s near-on impossible to know which way it’s going to go, given how impressive the Eels have been this year, but I’ll stick with the Sharks and their pack to roll over the finish line.
Sharks by 2.
Be sure to join The Roar for live coverage of this Round 4 encounter from 7:35pm (AEDT) and don’t forget to add a comment in the section below.
Kick-off: 7:30pm (AEDT)
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Homebush
TV: Live, Fox League 502
Online: Live, Foxtel app, Foxtel now, Kayo Sports, NRL live pass
Betting: Sharks $1.80, Eels $2.05
Overall record: Played 85, Sharks 46, Eels 39
Last meeting: Round 9, 2018 – Sharks 22 defeat Eels 20 at Cronulla
Last five: Sharks 5, Eels 0
Record at venue: Played 2, Sharks 2, Eels 0
Referees: Chris Sutton, Chris Butler
1. Clinton 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. Kane Evans, 17. Oregon Kaufusi, 18. Ray Stone, 19. Matt McIlwrick, 20. Josh Hoffman, 21. George Jennings
1. Josh Dugan, 2. Sosaia Feki, 3. Bronson Xerri, 4. Josh Morris, 5. Sione Katoa, 6. Shaun Johnson, 7. Chad Townsend, 8. Andrew Fifita, 9. Jayden Brailey, 10. Matt Prior, 11. Briton Nikora, 12. Kurt Capewell, 13. Paul Gallen
Interchange: 14. Blayke Brailey, 15. Jayson Bukuya, 16. Aaron Woods, 17. Jack Williams, 18. Scott Sorensen, 19. Kyle Flanagan, 20. Aaron Gray, 21. Braden Hamlin-Uele