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PREVIEW: Parramatta Eels vs Penrith Panthers

LAST TIME OUT

The Parramatta Eels are in high-flying form at the moment, against the general census among rugby league fans in the pre-season, the Western Sydney side is has won three from four this year, playing impressive footy. Last week the Eels grinded out a gritty 8-0 win over the Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium, which followed an outstanding win over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. Key to the Eels’ recent success is their solid defensive structure, causing the team to have conceded only 39 points in 2016. Last week, young-gun Junior Paulo scored the winning try for the Eels with Michael Gordon kicking the remaining points.

In a season peppered with narrow losses, the Penrith Panthers have experienced their fair share of nail-biting finishes already this year. In the last fortnight, a narrow one-point win over the Broncos was followed by a two-point loss to the Dragons at WIN Stadium. Jamie Soward, scoring 28 points this season with a stellar kicking game, suffered a poor performance in which the halfback was trampled in one of the Dragons’ tries.

KEY BATTLE

Semi Radradra, Michael Jennings + Josh Mansour, Waqa Blake

The key battle in Sunday afternoon’s fixture at Pirtek Stadium will be between each side’s respective wingers. Josh Mansour of the Panthers has had an exciting start to the season, utilizing his great finishing on the ball he’s scored on two occasions this year, providing the Panthers with some much-needed fire on the outskirts of the field. However, in the other winger position, youngster Waqa Blake has struggled to amount any points this year for his side.

For the Eels, Semi Radradra will be one to look out for against the Panthers backline. With an outstanding 2015 season, and a 2016 pre-season that involved scoring for the World All Stars, the Fijian winger’s 2016 season is looking very exciting. With some of the quickest legs in the competition, with some space out wide, this man is a danger to his opponents.

PREDICTION

Kieran Foran will replace forward Tim Mannah as captain this week, following the Eels player’s shoulder fracture sustained last week. Taking Mannah’s place in the front row of the forward pack is Danny Wicks.

For the Panthers, star fullback Matthew Moylan will start his first game of the 2016 season and has been awarded the captaincy for the occassion. His inclusion back in to the squad should be a massive boost for the Penrith side, after his brilliant 2015 season for the Panthers that saw him consequently selected for the NSW All Stars side.

I expect this fixture to be close, a tight finish with the Eels going home with the two points on offer in the end.

SQUADS

Eels

1 Michael Gordon
2 Semi Radradra
3 Michael Jennings
4 Brad Takairangi
5 Clint Gutherson
6 Corey Norman
7 Kieran Foran (captain)
8 Junior Paulo
9 Isaac De Gois
10 Tim Mannah
11 Manu Ma’u
12 Beau Scott
13 Tepai Moeroa

Interchange
14 Kaysa Pritchard
15 Peni Terepo
16 Danny Wicks
17 Ken Edwards
18 David Gower

Panthers

1 Matt Moylan (captain)
2 Josh Mansour
3 Waqa Blake
4 Peta Hiku
5 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
6 Te Maire Martin
7 Jamie Soward
8 Sam McKendry
9 Peter Wallace
10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
11 Bryce Cartwright
12 Isaah Yeo
13 Trent Merrin

Interchange
14 Tyrone Peachey
15 Leilani Latu
16 Suaia Matagi
17 James Fisher-Harris
20 Elijah Taylor
21 Jeremy Latimore

#SydneyFC and #RedV fanatic! Second Row in RL, LB in Soccer + Writer for @NothingButRL @FTSAUS @TheRoarSports @IFAFEN. Live Well, Love Much and Laugh Often.



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