Date: Monday 8th June
Venue: Pirtek Stadium
Kick-Off: 7:00pm AEDT
Eels: 1. Reece Robinson, 2. Semi Radradra, 3. Will Hopoate, 4. Brad Taikairangi, 5. Ryan Morgan, 6. Corey Norman, 7. Chris Sandow, 8. Junior Paulo, 9. Nathan Peats, 10. Tim Mannah ©, 11. Manu Ma’u, 12. Tepai Moeroa, 13. Anthony Watmough, 14. David Gower, 15. Daniel Alvaro, 16. Danny Wicks, 17. Pauli Pauli.
Coach – Brad Arthur
Cowboys: 1. Lachlan Coote, 2. Matthew Wright, 3. Justin O’Neill, 4. Kane Linnett, 5. Antonio Winterstein, 6. Michael Morgan, 7. Johnathan Thurston ©, 8. Matthew Scott ©, 9. Jake Granville, 10. James Tamou, 11. Gavin Cooper, 12. Ethan Lowe, 13. Jason Taumalolo, 14. Ray Thompson, 15. John Asiata, 16. Ben Hannant, 17. Sam Hoare, 19. Rory Kostjaysn.
Coach – Paul Green
Preview: The Cowboys had to play their get out of jail card, but managed to escape with an impressive ninth straight victory last week over Manly 18-14 on a 79th minute try to Gavin Cooper. The win stands the Cowboys third on the ladder, but equal first in terms of competition points on 18.
The Eels have had a turbulent but unsuccessful campaign so far, but were impressive in a 26-20 win over the Panthers last week. Storming out of the gate with two tries in the first ten minutes, the Eels did face a scare in the second half but when push came to shove they were up to the task, albeit against a Panthers side that lost star fullback Matt Moylan during the contest.
The Cowboys are fortunate enough to be able to trot out the same unit that stole the win over Manly, with Rory Kostjaysn serving as 18th man. David Gower returns for Parramatta, with Joseph Paulo out of the side.
With 252 points on the year, the Cowboys have scored the third most points in the competition, in contrast the Eels 278 points allowed is the second highest among all sides.
The Cowboys have arguably the best pack in the competition, particularly in the middle of the field where representative stars Matthew Scott, James Tamou and Jaso Taumalolo dominate proceedings. While the Eels may not feature such name recognition in their pack beyond lock Anthony Watmough, their pack is comprised of plenty of size and toughness, players like Junior Paulo, Manu Ma’u and Tepai Moeroa likely to be making strong impacts for many years to come. It’s hard to see them taking ascendency against the experience of the Cowboys unit however, and that creates the opportunities needed for Johnathan Thurston and Michael Morgan to pull the strings.
Prediction: Cowboys to cover the 4.5 point spread.