We’re only in the ninth round of 2016 yet one of the marquee clashes of the year is about to have its second iteration – the rivalry of the Eels and Bulldogs brings out the best in players who look to lift to beat their 80s foe, Parramatta coming away with the chocolates when the teams met in round 3. Will Canterbury come back with a vengeance and level the ledger or will Parramatta go two from two?
LAST TIME OUT
Parramatta looked as if they could topple the Cowboys in Townsville before becoming the unwilling victim of a classic comeback the North Queenslanders are known for, coming home with a wet sail to trump Parramatta, and though the scoreline of 32-16 implies dominance, the game was in the balance until about the 70th minute.
Canterbury looked to have the Gold Coast wrapped up until a late comeback brought the scores level and the game went in to golden point, where kings of golden point Canterbury (who have the highest winrate of all teams in extra time) won courtesy of a Josh Reynolds field goal, and in doing so cemented themselves in the top eight.
Sam Perrett was given a hefty dose of nightmare fuel when Semi Radradra ran rampant over the Canterbury winger when the sides last met: Perrett since then has gone on to produce some of the best form of his career, shining in their recent wins against the Storm and Gold Coast. If Perrett is able to put the round two showing behind him and lock down the Semi Trailer, it goes a long way to shutting down the Eels’ attack.
Furthermore, one of the days thrown around around for the verdict in the now infamous cap breach investigation is the day of the game – although it is one of many dates slated, if Friday is when the punishment is given it will be interesting to see how Parramatta cope.
Canterbury’s win over the Titans was unconvincing, though they do have momentum. The Eels do not have the luxury of momentum, instead having a flight home from North Queensland to mope about what could have been – it’s rare that Canterbury lose twice to Parramatta – they haven’t done so since the 2010 season, and in such a crucial clash they’ll be determined not to do it again.
Bulldogs by 4.
Eels: 1 Michael Gordon 2 Semi Radradra 3 Michael Jennings 4 Bradley Takairangi 5 Clinton Gutherson 6 Corey Norman 7 Kieran Foran 8 Junior Paulo 9 Nathan Peats 10 Daniel Alvaro 11 Manu Ma’u 12 Beau Scott 13 Tepai Moeroa Interchange: 14 Isaac De Gois 15 Peni Terepo 16 Danny Wicks 17 Kenneth Edwards.
Bulldogs: 1 William Hopoate 2 Curtis Rona 3 Josh Morris 4 Kerrod Holland 5 Sam Perrett 6 Josh Reynolds 7 Moses Mbye 8 Aiden Tolman 9 Michael Lichaa 10 James Graham 11 Joshua Jackson 12 Tony Williams 13 Greg Eastwood Interchange: 14 Sam Kasiano 15 Tim Browne 16 David Klemmer 17 Craig Garvey 19 Lloyd Perrett 22 Raymond Faitala-Mariner.