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2014 NRL Round Four Preview, Eels Vs Panthers – QLDPanthers

Saturday March 29 at 5:30pm Sydney (4:30pm Brisbane) at Pirtek Stadium

Squads

Eels

1 Jarryd Hayne (c) 2 Semi Radradra 3 Will Hopoate 4 Willie Tonga 5 Ken Sio 6 Corey Norman 7 Chris Sandow 8 Tim Mannah (c) 9 Nathan Peats 10 Fuifui Moimoi 11 Kenny Edwards 12 Manu Ma’u 13 Joseph Paulo Interchange 14 Kelepi Tanginoa 15 Peni Terepo 16 Mitch Allgood 17 David Gower

Panthers

1 Matt Moylan 2 Kevin Naiqama 3 Dean Whare 4 Jamal Idris 5 David Simmons 6 Jamie Soward 7 Peter Wallace 8 Nigel Plum 9 Kevin Kingston (c) 10 Sam McKendry 11 Lewis Brown 12 Elijah Taylor 13 Adam Docker Interchange 14 James Segeyaro 15 Jeremy Latimore 16 Tyrone Peachey 17 Tim Grant

Wallace to return?

Peter Wallace returns to the side and will partner Jamie Soward for the second time at National Rugby League level.  They already have one scalp under their belt with a good win over the Knights in round one.  Adam Docker was lucky to escape suspension and Elijah Taylor is named despite struggling at the end of last weekend’s victory over the Bulldogs.

Despite the Panthers website saying Peter Wallace’s groin injury will see him out for 1-2 weeks, it’s been confirmed on Twitter he’s right to play.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Isaac John is close-by in the event Wally can’t take his place in the team.

Panthers assistant coach David Fairleigh confirms Peter Wallace will play v @TheParraEels this Saturday #nrl

We bought you the ever reliable NRL Injury list last week.  This time we’ll go with the official club website’s injury list.

JOSH MANSOUR: Suffered a small hamstring tear during our game against Melbourne. He is progressing well and the coaches will reassess his progress at the end of this week to see when he might be fit to play

PETER WALLACE: Suffered a groin strain at Friday’s captain run. He will be out for 1-2 weeks

BRENT KITE: Strained his calf during the Melbourne game. He is doing well in rehab but will be sidelined for another 2-3 weeks

ETO NABULI: MCL on left knee. He pulled up sore after our Auckland Nines quarter final match, and scans show it is worse than first thought. Due back in the next couple of weeks

GEORGE JENNINGS: Dislocated his elbow in our Nines quarter final. He doesn’t need surgery and is progressing well. Coaches will reassess him this week, but he’s expected to stay sidelined for another 1-2 weeks

LUKE CAPEWELL: He’s had surgery on his right foot after turf toe. Should be fit to play in the next week or two

SIKA MANU: Had a shoulder reconstruction after the World Cup last year. Progress has been outstanding and he’s due back on the field in the next couple of weeks

VAIPUNA TIA KILIFI: Broke his ankle during a trial match. He is now out of the safety boot and has started back running. It will still be a while until he’s fit

DANIEL FOSTER: Suffered a light hamstring strain in round 2. He is due back in a week or two

Slimy Eels need to be watched closely

Parramatta are coming off a narrow heat-breaking loss at Brookvale on Sunday and have made a key change.

‘Marquee’ half-back Chris Sandow returns to National Rugby League competition for the first time since July 8 2013 when he was part of an Eels 50-10 loss away to Manly.  The success rate of the side with Sandow playing is 23% (9 wins, 27 losses).  He returns at the expense of Luke Kelly.

Ben Smith has a finger injury, with Joseph Paulo moving to lock and Mitch Allgood added to the bench.

The Eels were surprise first up winners against Elliott’s mob from New Zealand, and belted by the defending premiers in the second week.  Last week was an exceptional performance, ultimately falling short partly with Paulo missing some easy snaps at goal.  Like with the Doggies last week, what Eels side will we face this weekend?

The tale of the tape in local derby’s

This will be the 103rd meeting of the two teams which is by far the most we’ve played against any opponent.  Penrith victorious on 42 occasions, the Eels 59 with one draw.  Since 2004, we’ve won eleven of the eighteen.  Penrith have won their last three at Pirtek Stadium (20-6 in 2011, 39-6 in 2012 and 17-10 in 2013), and six of the last eight at the venue.  Having said that, no derby is easy no matter who the opponents put out on the field.  Look at the disappointment Panther fans felt last year with a home loss to an under-strength Wests Tigers outfit at home on a Sunday afternoon.

How the game could be played out

After winning on the siren last week, Penrith will be looking for improvement in their game as they face Parramatta in the local derby on Saturday.  On the other hand the Eels will be buoyed by their performance against Manly despite going down in the final moments at Brookvale.

Penrith will be looking to play this one through the forwards with their in-form pack led by Docker and Nigel Plum.   For the Eels Kenny Edwards and Manu Ma’u are relatively inexperienced at National Rugby League level, and Nathan Peats is still settling into the hooking role. The Panthers looking for quick play the balls and dominate the ruck.  Something they struggled with against Des Hasler’s Bulldogs last weekend.  Penrith’s cause will be assisted by x-factor bench players James Segeyaro and Tyrone Peachey,  capable of ripping the game apart and in their team’s favour.

The most fascinating battle of the game should be out wide and where Parramatta will be hoping to dominate.  Semi Radradra is one difficult customer who will be up against the experienced David Simmons and Jamal Idris.  Ken Sio faces Kevin Naiqama and both have shown in their career that finding the line has not been a problem.  One would expect Jarryd Hayne will come under close scrutiny from Penrith in this match as they try to restrict his impact on the game.

Eels fans will be keen to see how Sandow fits into this side after a troubled career with the club.  This could be one small step on the way back to resurrecting his career.  He joins Corey Norman in the halves where they go head to head against Peter Wallace and Jamie Soward.  The halves could well determine how the game is won.

It’s a matter of commitment 

Penrith’s great start to the 2014 NRL season should continue this weekend but not without some stiff resistance from the Eels.  It’s been an intense two weeks of footy with games going down to the wire.  The second half of the Bulldogs game saw the Panthers struggle.  This week the Panthers need to be committed for the full eighty minutes and dominate their opposition to secure victory.

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