The Eels defeated the Warriors in a clash that was tough and entertaining. The Cowboys defeated the Titans in a professional display that showed the difference between the two teams. Now to escape the deluge known as Sydney this weekend, the teams head to Darwin for a game at TIO Stadium in front of a crowd that may hold more Cowboys fans than those for the Eels.
Last time out:
The Eels had some players backing up from Origin when they faced the Warriors and they showed no fatigue in an excellent display. On top of injuries, they showed some character in their effort and they made the Warriors commit more errors than usual (well for the 2017 Warriors at least).
With five tries, including the sealer from Gutherson (who was in everything) the Eels were the better team, and it would have been a tragedy for them to have left without the points. The Warriors were their typical inconsistent best. Playing the game that has their non-New Zealand based fans wonder when they will perform as well as they do at home for their entertainment. But they were controlled well by the Eels, who limited their opportunities and made sure of their own opportunities.
The Cowboys were at their professional best against the Titans. With Morgan returning and O’Neill sitting the match out after Origin. It was a display of control and patience by the Cowboys and they gave few chances to the Titans and exploited each error. When you have the injuries that they are currently wearing on their team list, a display such as this shows that Paul Green knows how to coach a team without a superstar.
How They Will Win:
With a number of changes in the air or already confirmed. The Eels will start favourite after confirming the inclusion of Corey Norman, who pushes Clint Gutherson out to the centres, where he replaced the injured Kirisome Auva’a. Given the issues with the recently imported Mitchell Moses, the introduction of Norman may cause some issues with the chemistry. If it goes south, they will most likely move Moses to the bench and shift Gutherson in. The strength of this is that should Moses not be poor, they have an extra playmaker that could disrupt the Cowboys with the multiple options.
The Cowboys have flown Thurston up with the team, and given the comfort factor of planes, I doubt that he will be missing from the run on side. Without him, they will be playing with Kyle Laybutt in the 6 jersey, and while his form for the Blackhawks in the Queensland ISC, he will be solid. He will not be out of place in an NRL field, but he is no JT.
For the Eels to win, they will need for Norman and Moses to gel or make the call early and move Gutherson back into the halves. This will leave them short on the bench, but the damage that may be caused by the Cowboys exploiting the confusion of two incompatible halves could be critical to the Eels success. Both teams at full strength would be a close contest, the Eels will be hoping to see a certain player in Jeans rather than in a jersey.
The Cowboys showed last weekend that they are very competitive without JT. The level of control and discipline allowed them to control the Titans and with one of the best young forwards coming in off the bench, they have a good forward rotation and possibly better than their opponent on Saturday night. The Eels present a major difference in attack to the Titans (who were very unimaginative with the ball in hand) and if they can contain the likes of Semi Radradra, Gutherson and French and work through the middle, they may be able to exploit their familiarity with the temperature and take the points.
With the changes that we currently have, Parramatta has the advantage of Corey Norman and thus the game. With a potential JT in after several weeks out, it would move it closer towards the Cowboys, but probably closer to a draw than a win. Eels by 4.
Parramatta Eels: 1. Bevan French, 2. Semi Radradra, 3. Brad Takairangi, 4. Kirisome Auva’a, 5. Nathan Davis, 6. Clinton Gutherson, 7. Mitchell Moses, 8. Suaia Matagi, 9. Kaysa Pritchard, 10. Tim Mannah (c), 11. Manu Ma’u, 12. Tepai Moeroa, 13. Nathan Brown. Interchange: 14. Beau Scott (c), 15. Daniel Alvaro, 16. Kenny Edwards, 17. Will Smith, 18. John Folau, 19. Siosaia Vave, 20. Marata Niukore, 21. Corey Norman.
North Queensland Cowboys: 1. Lachlan Coote, 2. Kyle Feldt, 3. Justin O’Neill, 4. Kane Linnett, 5. Antonio Winterstein, 6. Kyle Laybutt, 7. Michael Morgan, 8. John Asiata, 9. Jake Granville, 10. Scott Bolton, 11. Gavin Cooper (c), 12. Ethan Lowe, 13. Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14. Ben Hampton, 15. Coen Hess, 16. Shaun Fensom, 17. Ben Spina, 18. Corey Jensen, 19. Johnathan Thurston, 20. Kalyn Ponga, 21. Javid Bowen