The Parramatta Eels set their sights on returning to the winners circle when they take on a Gold Coast Titans side that will be looking to but their off field woes and internal conflict to one side this Thursday night at ANZ stadium.
Last Time Out
After winning six matches in a row, Brad Arthur and his men look destined to win comfortably against the Newcastle Knights who sit at last position on the NRL ladder. However the Knights stood tall and notched up their third consecutive victory thanks to a double from Ken Sio and a brilliant running game from their forwards. In a weekend of upsets the Eels got a reality check and would definitely look to bounce back against the Titans.
The Titans poor 2017 season continued as they have now conceded over 90 points in their last two matches. After a heavy defeat against premiership hopefuls Brisbane Broncos, the Titans were up against the St George Illawarra Dragons. It was a must win game for the Dragons who were aiming to keep their finals aspirations alive. The hosts piled on the points as they produced one of their best attacking performances of the year. On the other side of the coin, the Titans only had themselves to blame and slumped to their fourth straight loss.
For Parramatta, Bevan French will return from a hamstring injury which kept him out of the Knights game from last weekend. The Eels will certainly enjoy his return as opposing teams have had a hard time containing this lethal ball runner. He has served as a perfect replacement for Clint Gutherson at fullback and if he is on his game, the Titans might be locked in for another difficult night of football.
For the away side, Tyrone Roberts is named in halves with Ash Taylor as Kane Elgey is expected to play off the bench. Front rower Jarrod Wallace and fullback Jarryd Hayne will have to prove their fitness before Thursday night for their respective injuries and are both a possible chance of missing out.
Titans Internal Conflict
The Titans off field dramas is starting to look as bad as the Wests Tigers when they sacked coach Jason Taylor just three rounds into the 2017 competition. This situation is whole different kettle of fish though. Neil Henry and Jarryd Hayne’s sour relationship hasn’t been kept behind closed doors. If the head coach and the Titans big name signing for this year can’t get along, then it’s no wonder why Gold Coast are located at 14th position on the NRL ladder. With the Tigers and Knights finding late season form, it’s crucial the Titans bring their four game losing streak to an end and avoid the wooden spoon. With the future of Neil Henry and Jarryd Hayne to be decided next week, the rest of the team need to put these distractions to one side. If they can inflict an upset victory on Parramatta it will not only give them a good platform heading into next year, but will get the media talking about their brand of football once more.
Brad Arthur was very disappointed in his side’s effort last weekend. When a team with form and promise like the Eels experience a loss you know that they will come out this weekend firing out of the blocks. This side will be out to prove that their game against the Knights in round 23 was just a minor hiccup and won’t be a sign of team losing their momentum heading into September football. With the fall out between Neil Henry and Jarryd Hayne, it is hard to imagine the Titans can put their internal divisions to one side and produce an upset. All signs show that Parramatta should win comfortably and reclaim a top four position on the NRL ladder.
The Eels by 20
Parramatta Eels vs Gold Coast Titans, Thursday 17 August, 7:50PM at ANZ Stadium
Eels: 1. Bevan French 2. Semi Radradra 3. Michael Jennings 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Kirisome Auva’a 6. Corey Norman 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Siosaia Vave 9. Cameron King 10. Tim Mannah 11. Manu Ma’u 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Nathan Brown Interchange: 14. Daniel Alvaro 15. Kenny Edwards 16. Suaia Matagi 17. Peni Terepo Reserves: 18. David Gower 19. Will Smith 20. Frank Pritchard 21. Josh Hoffman
Titans: 1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Anthony Don 3. Dale Copley 4. John Olive 5. William Zillman 6. Tyrone Roberts 7. Ashley Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Nathan Peats 10. Ryan James 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Joe Greenwood 13. Max King Interchange: 14. Kane Elgey 15. Nathaniel Peteru 16. Leivaha Pulu 17. Paterika Vaivai Reserves: 18. Morgan Boyle 19. Ben Nakubuwai 20. Phillip Sami 21. Eddy Pettybourne