A battle of epic proportions awaits at WIN Stadium on Thursday night as the 1st placed Dragons take on the might of the 16th placed Eels.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
After getting trounced by the Panthers 2-28 in Round 12, the Dragons put together back to back victories. They nudged out a narrow 18-16 win against the Dogs before thrashing a hapless Manly side 32-8 to reclaim outright 1st position on the ladder.
A 20-14 victory against the Cowboys in Round 14 was just the third time for the season the Eels had claimed victory. Regular proceedings resumed the following round, receiving a 42-24 beatdown by South Sydney. Robert Jennings embarrassed his brothers as he scored 4 tries down their defensive edge.
Tyson Frizell has been rested for the week with Jacob Host taking his spot in the back-row. Their remaining rep players all got through relatively unscathed and are set to take their place in the line-up.
Mitchell Moses returns to the halves with Gutherson shifting to fullback and French out to the wing at the expense of Hoffman. Manu Mau is out with a fractured cheekbone, replaced by Marata Niukore in the starting side. Will Smith replaces the suspended Reed Mahoney on the bench.
Ben Hunt had a horrid night out for QLD on Sunday. The avalanche of criticism he’s received would be tough for anyone to handle. He’ll be out to bounce back with a strong showing against the Eels.
Conversely there’ll be no better time for the Eels to rattle him and put him off his game early so Hunt should expect a bit of attacking traffic sent his way.
The only way that traffic is going to get moving though is if Daniel Alvaro and Nathan Brown have stand-out games. The only way the Eels can win is by going straight through the middle. How well the team plays comes down to how much Alvaro and Brown can step up to the challenge of taking on one of the best packs in the league.
The Eels have won their last 6 matches against the Dragons
1 Matt Dufty, 2 Nene Macdonald, 3 Euan Aitken, 4 Tim Lafai, 5 Kurt Mann, 6 Gareth Widdop (c), 7 Ben Hunt, 8 James Graham, 9 Cameron McInnes, 10 Paul Vaughan, 11 Jacob Host, 12 Tariq Sims, 13 Jack De Belin
Interchange: 14 Jeremy Latimore, 15 Jason Nightingale, 16 Leeson Ah Mau, 17 Luciano Leilua
Reserves: 18 Blake Lawrie, 19 Reece Robson, 20 Jai Field, 21 Hame Sele, 22 Darren Nicholls, 23 Patrick Herbert
1 Clint Gutherson (c), 2 Bevan French, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Jarryd Hayne, 5 George Jennings, 6 Corey Norman7man, 8 Daniel Alvaro, 9 Cameron King, 10 Siosaia Vave, 11 Marata Niukore, 12 Brad Takairangi, 13 Nathan Brown
Interchange: 14 Will Smith, 15 Tim Mannah (c), 16 David Gower, 17 Peni Terepo
Reserves: 18 Kirisome Auva’a, 19 Kane Evans, 20 Jaeman Salmon, 21 Suaia Matagi
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Thursday June 28th
Venue: WIN Stadium
WHO WILL WIN?