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The Parramatta Eels host the Sydney Roosters on Saturday night, desperate to return to form after an embarrassing showing against the Bulldogs last weekend. Join The Roar for live scores and commentary from 7.30pm AEST.
The Eels have to be one of the most difficult teams to get a gauge on this year.
They are the only team to beat both the Panthers and Storm away from home – something that never comes down to luck. However, they have also lost to the Tigers and Bulldogs, with both running last at the time.
The Bulldogs were very good on Monday, take nothing away from them, they have been building towards that performance for a few weeks. But it was a classic case of a team not taking their opposition seriously. Once the Bulldogs got out of the gates, the Eels just couldn’t go with them. The harder they tried, the sloppier they got, unwilling to get in to the grind and be patient against a team they thought was a walkover. Mitch Moses losing the ball over the line late in the game couldn’t have summed up their afternoon any better.
The Roosters are starting to show signs that they are getting there. They couldn’t get the win against the Storm last week but they were in the game the whole way – even with both their halves coming from the field at different stages with Luke Keary unable to return. They had a chance to go ahead late in the game but Sitili Tupouniua couldn’t ground a Sam Walker kick. The Storm went down the other end and iced the game as they so often do.
The Roosters welcome back hooker Sam Verrills for this one, pushing Drew Hutchison to the bench. Paul Momirovski has been dropped, with Billy Smith the new centre. Egan Butcher joins the bench for Daniel Suluka-Fifita. The Eels are unchanged from last week.
These two have already met this year, in one of the matches of Magic Round. On that afternoon the Roosters built a fair lead up before the Eels reeled them in, in the second half. It came to nought, the Roosters with a late try to seal things 31-28. It continues a dominant recent record by the Roosters over the Eels, winning 7 of the last 9 games between the two. The Roosters have lost just once at CommBank Stadium, from seven matches played since it opened in 2019.
This is a huge match, for both clubs. The Roosters are starting to return to form, but they still teeter on the edge of the 8. They have a 7-7 record and with the season now starting to get on, they need to start banking some more wins. For the Eels it is a chance for redemption after last week but also a confidence builder. They looked like a genuine premiership threat after knocking over the Panthers a month ago, now who knows where they really stand.
It is a big game for the Eels playmakers. Mitch Moses, Dylan Brown and Clint Gutherson are all in good form, but that means nothing with performances like last week. Likewise for the Roosters, Luke Keary was starting to show signs of his best last week before he went off. James Tedesco just goes to another level at this time of year, while Sam Walker and Joseph Sualii are key contributors every week.
Depending on how results go, the result of this one could see the Eels climb back into the top 4, or the Roosters slip out of the eight.
I’m tipping the Roosters to continue their run against the Eels, in an extra-time win.
Roosters by 1
1. Clint Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Will Penisini 4. Waqa Blake 5. Bailey Simonsson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Marata Niukore 13. Isaiah Papali’i
Interchange: 14. Makahesi Makatoa 15. Ryan Matterson 16. Oregon Kaufusi 17. Nathan Brown 18. Tom Opacic 19. Jakob Arthur 20. Bryce Cartwright 21. Ky Rodwell 22. Sean Russell
1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Billy Smith 4. Joseph Manu 5. Joseph Suaalii 6. Sam Walker 7. Luke Keary 8. Lindsay Collins 9. Sam Verrills 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Angus Crichton 12. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Nat Butcher
Interchange: 14. Connor Watson 15. Drew Hutchison 16. Egan Butcher 17. Fletcher Baker 18. Lachlan Lam 19. Daniel Suluka-Fifita 20. Paul Momirovski 21. Terrell May 22. Adam Keighran