With nothing to play for but nothing to lose the Parramatta Eels will play out the rest of the season with pride on the line. The Wests Tigers on the other hand will look to continue their push towards an unlikely finals run as the battle to claim the last few spots in the Top 8 intensifies.

Last Time Out

The Wests Tigers composed themselves well amidst the recurring drama of the Farah/Taylor saga to post a convincing 25-12 win against the Dragons. They lost Tim Grant to concussion after 2 minutes on the field and an injury to Chris Lawrence saw the Tigers reduced to a 2 man bench for the 2nd half which only made things tougher but they handled the disruptions comfortably and were never really troubled by a Dragons side severely lacking in attacking options. With a -73 point differential and only two points away from 7th position, the Tigers are going to have to build some momentum and consistency if they want to play finals footy.

The Parramatta Eels faced off against the Gold Coast where their distant hopes of making the finals were officially dashed and gone for good going down 34-14 to a Titans team mounting a charge to the finals. They played with effort but the lack of cohesion in their makeshift backline leaked a lot of tries down their left edge and they’re clearly missing the class of Corey Norman in the halves. All the Eels have to play for now is for respect and with that pressure and expectation becomes nearly irrelevant and could see them trouble a few teams on the run home.

Key Battle

The halves battle. The makeshift pairing of Clint Gutherson and Jeff Robson have been given the task of guiding the Eels around for presumably the rest of the season providing proof that reality is truly stranger than fiction. Their forward pack has continued to perform admirably so it’s up to the halves to take advantage of the field position they get and take advantage of the Tigers occasionally poor edge defence. Gutherson has played very well since being moved there with a good short kicking game and a willingness to take on the line and back up on support plays. He’ll need to be switched on to take advantage of any late offload or gap in the line as he can really worry the Tigers in defence. Robson on the other hand is the quintessential no-frills halfback that steers the ship. If he puts in his kicks accurately, settles play down for his team and keeps them composed then the Eels can stay in a set for set battle with the Tigers.

Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses need only stick to their game plan and make sure they aren’t liabilities in defence to ensure a successful day out for the Tigers. Moses has continued to improve week after week this season and he’s become much more of a vocal leader out on the field. He’s really stepped up as the man to lead the Tigers around and the strength of his kicking game will play a vital part in his team’s performance. Brooks is a dangerous attacking player and his ability to link with Tedesco in attack has potential to wreak havoc on the Eels edge defence. His speed accompanied with his dummy and go will be a difficult task for his opposite number Robson to contain and I would not be surprised to see him score a try running it himself on a sweep play or passing it to his inside man in Chris Lawrence running into a gap. If the Tigers halves fires it’ll be a bad day out for the Eels.

Prediction

Brad Arthur will continue to do a remarkable job in motivating his men amidst a season with one bad misfortune after the other but ultimately they won’t be able to overcome the quality of talent they’re missing. The Tigers aren’t a team where you can predict anything with great certainity. On paper they have a lot more to play for and have a far more settled lineup but anything goes with them. However they’ve demonstrated they have a lot of points in them and as long they hold the ball and keep their penalties low they should post a fair few tries and get a valuable win. Tigers by 10+

Squads
Wests Tigers
1 James Tedesco
2 David Nofoaluma
3 Tim Simona
4 Kevin Naiqama
5 Jordan Rankin
6 Mitchell Moses
7 Luke Brooks
8 Aaron Woods ©
9 Dene Halatau
10 Sauaso Sue
11 Josh Aloiai
12 Chris Lawrence
13 Elijah Taylor
Interchange:
14 Kyle Lovett
15 Ava Seumanufagai
16 Tim Grant
17 Joel Edwards

Parramatta Eels
1 Michael Gordon
2 Vai Toutai
3 Manu Ma’u*
4 Brad Takairangi
5 Bevan French
6 Clinton Gutherson
7 Jeff Robson
8 Danny Wicks
9 Isaac De Gois
10 Tim Mannah
11 Kenny Edwards
12 Tepai Moeroa
13 Beau Scott ©
Interchange:
14 Rory O’Brien
15 Peni Terepo
16 David Gower
17 Daniel Alvaro

* Ma’u will miss this game through suspension. His replacement will be named an hour before kick-off.