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PREVIEW: Parramatta Eels vs Melbourne Storm

The Parramatta Eels and Melbourne Storm have each other in their sights in a battle of two of the more imposing defensive sides in 2016, throw in a cast of Origin and International caliber stars and Monday night is looking like another classic NRL battle between two of the stronger sides in this years premiership.

LAST TIME OUT

Parramatta looked to put one of the clubs most tumultuous weeks in their history behind them and put football back in the headlines with a win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Things looked to be going to script early as the Eels exploded either side of half time to open up a 20 – 6 lead, however a Greg Inglis inspired comeback saw the Rabbitohs charge home the stronger of the two sides and with an Adam Reynolds sideline conversion in the 80th minute the comeback was complete.

The Melbourne Storm traveled to Suncorp to take on the defending premiers as part of the NRL’s Queensland double header last Saturday night. In a closely fought contest the Strom came away with a one point victory over the Cowboys and announced themselves as a genuine premiership threat in 2016. The early season knockers of Cameron Smith seem to have no well and truly quietened down as the future immortal of the game put a vintage performance together that included 61 tackles and the match deciding field goal.

KEY BATTLE

Given the defensive dominance of these two sides in 2016 the end result of this match may well come down to the creativity of the attack from each team can produce. With the Eels likely (as of publishing) to be again without their star Kiwi international in Kieran Foran the Storm may hold an edge with both their regular halves (Cronk and Green) fit and firing.

Both sides have some of the most entertaining outside backs in the competitions with the Eels sporting Semi Radradra, Michael Jennings and the ever improving Clint Gutherson, while the Storm are not to be outdone having the likes of Cameron Munster, Marika Koroibete and exciting young prospect Suliasi Vunivalu at their disposal.

The battle in the halves will go a long way to deciding the winner of this match, with a defensive battle expected points will be at a premium and the team who can come up with the extra line break or piece of sheer brilliance may find themselves on the rights side of a low scoring and tightly fought battle.

PREDICTION

The Melbourne Storm (as they do with most rival NRL clubs) have a very good record against the Parramatta Eels having won 6 of the last 8 matches between the two sides, included in those wins are two of the last three at Pirtek Stadium. In 2016 the Eels and the Storm and the two benchmark sides in terms of defense, neither give their opponents’ anything for free, setting up a potential defensive battle in this contest.

We will learn a lot about what the remainder of 2016 holds in store for the Parramatta Eels during this match on Monday night. The Eels mental state is going to dictate a lot of what happens on the field for the remainder of the season, if they remain steadfast as a group expect them to give the Melbourne Storm some serious concerns in this match. There is always the chance though that given the difficult month they have endured with the salary cap scandal, topped off with the disappointment of last Friday night the team could be in for a letdown at some point soon. They have been very consistent in 2016 however there is a good chance that bubble is about to burst given all they have had to contest with off the field.

We are predicting that this is not the week the Eels face that letdown and put in a stirring performance to overcome the Storm at Pirtek Stadium in another tightly fought edition of Monday Night Football, the Eels to sneak home by 4 points.

SQUADS

PARRAMATTA EELS
1 Michael Gordon
2 Semi Radradra
3 Michael Jennings
4 Vai Afu Toutai
5 Clinton Gutherson
6 Bradley Takairangi
7 Corey Norman
8 Junior Paulo
9 Isaac De Gois
10 Danny Wicks
11 Manu Ma’u
12 Beau Scott
13 Tepai Moeroa

INTERCHANGE
14 Kaysa Pritchard
15 Peni Terepo
16 David Gower
17 Kenneth Edwards

MELBOURNE STORM
1 Cameron Munster
2 Suliasi VUNIVALU
3 Cheyse BLAIR
4 Tohu Harris
5 Marika Koroibete
6 Blake Green
7 Cooper Cronk
8 Jesse Bromwich
9 Cameron Smith
10 Jordan McLean
11 Kevin Proctor
12 Kenneth BROMWICH
13 Dale Finucane

INTERCHANGE
14 Nelson ASOFA-SOLOMONA
15 Tim Glasby
16 Christian WELCH
17 Felise Kaufusi

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