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The Parramatta Eels and Penrith Panthers meet in Round 11 NRL action at Bankwest Stadium in Sydney. Join The Roar for live scores and commentary from 7:50pm (AEST).
There is something seriously wrong at Penrith. Unfortunately, the coach is aware of the problems but won’t tell anyone what they are, nor the means by which he intends to fix them. It is all a bit mysterious at the foot of the mountains and, after six consecutive losses, the supposedly star-studded squad resembles more of battery operated vehicle without a charging station. Flat.
Parramatta are equally as difficult to read. After a promising start to the season, the wheels appear to have fallen off after consecutive losses to the Cowboys and Storm.
The latter was a drubbing and said a great deal about where the Eels are really at in terms of mounting a serious charge on the premiership.
Thus, this matchup is full of desperation. Another loss for the Panthers to one of their old foes might be just about enough for the Penrith fans, after coming into the season with such hope and positivity. Should the Eels stumble against the most out of form team in the competition, it could potentially confirm a widely held belief that they are only a mediocre NRL outfit.
James Tamou, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Viliame Kikau and James Fisher-Harris must show the way for the visitors. Kikau has been solid this season, but the other three are not denting the defensive line proportionate to their reputations. That forward momentum should allow Nathan Cleary more opportunities than in prior weeks, even with James Maloney not by his side.
Simply holding onto the ball might be a good place to start for the Panthers, with their error count being a concern most weeks.
Parramatta’s young stars have faltered as we head towards the bye. Mitchell Moses appears to have become gun shy, refusing to take on the line as he had done earlier in the season.
The level of aggression in the forwards has not been as high as in some of their excellent wins through the opening rounds. Blake Ferguson appears to have slipped in form yet, with the Clint Gutherson contract saga now over, Parramatta can hopefully get their minds back on the field and execute Brad Arthur’s plans more consistently.
Picking this match correctly will be something of a lucky dip for fans. If Penrith remain on form, Parramatta will win well. But, if the Panthers do finally show some of the talent many believe they possess it could be a ripping affair between two sides that appear evenly matched on paper.
I feel this could be the beginning of the resurgence for the Panthers; a resurgence triggered by a four-point win tonight.
Parramatta 14-18 Penrith
Catch all the action on The Roar, with live coverage from 7:50pm (AEST).
Where: Bankwest Stadium, Sydney
When: 7:50pm (AEST)
TV: Fox League, Nine
Online: Kayo Sports, Foxtel Now, NRL app
Betting: Eels $1.44, Panthers $2.80
1. Clint Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Josh Hoffman 4. Blake Ferguson 5. George Jennings 6. Will Smith 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Junior Paulo 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Tim Mannah 11. Shaun Lane 12. Marata Niukore 13. Manu Ma’u
Bench/Reserves: 14. Peni Terepo 15. Daniel Alvaro 16. Brad Takairangi 17. David Gower 18. Jaeman Salmon 19. Bevan French 20. Kane Evans 21. Oregon Kaufusi
1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Waqa Blake 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Sione Katoa 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Frank Winterstein 13. James Fisher-Harris
Bench/Reserves: 14. Liam Martin 15. Tyrell Fuimaono 16. Tim Grant 17. Moses Leota 18. Mitch Kenny 19. Hame Sele 20. Kaide Ellis 21. Caleb Aekins