The final round 15 game in this year’s National Rugby League premiership will see two sides looking to come back from losses last weekend when they face off at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
LAST TIME OUT
Parramatta Eels held their fourth annual ‘home’ game at TIO Stadium in Darwin, hoping to keep their unbeaten record at the venue when they took on North Queensland Cowboys. The night belonged to Johnathan Thurston who not only proved his fitness, but inspired the Cowboys to a big 32-6 victory over the Eels. Brad Takairangi’s try twelve minutes from time was the only joy for Eels fans on the night in a team performance that lacked discipline.
For a second week in succession St George-Illawarra headed to ANZ Stadium for an ‘away’ game against the under-siege Canterbury Bulldogs who were coming off one of their most embarrassing performances in years against Penrith Panthers. Gareth Widdop’s penalty conversion was the only points scored in the first-half arm wrestle. Josh Morris’ try fourteen minutes into the second half opened the floodgates as the Bulldogs kept the Dragons try-less in winning 16-2.
A battle of youth against experience at fullback where Bevan French takes on Jason Nightingale. After exploding onto the scene in 2016, French’s impact on the scoreboard has been minimal since his move to fullback in round 25 when these two clubs met in the last game at Pirtek Stadium. With four tries in two matches against the Dragons he could be a key to his side’s fortunes. Jason Nightingale for the fifth time this year will play at the back. The Dragons have won 3 of 4 with him playing in the role. His experience under pressure will benefit his side’s cause.
It’s worth noting that Gareth Widdop and Corey Norman battle at five-eighth will have a huge impact but it will be the forward packs which will need to make good ground through the middle. Expect Nathan Brown for the Eels and Joel Thompson for the Dragons to have big games. Both work very hard in attack to give their sides momentum.
When these sides met in round 2, Semi Radradra scored four tries as the Eels belted St George-Illawarra at WIN Stadium 34-16. This one could head the same way with the Eels enjoying a five game winning streak over the top-four club.
Eels by 10
Sunday 18 June, 4pm at ANZ Stadium
Eels: 1. Bevan French 2. Semi Radradra 3. Brad Takairangi 4. Clint Gutherson 5. Kirisome Auva’a 6. Corey Norman 7. Mitch Moses 8. Daniel Alvaro 9. Kaysa Pritchard 10. Tim Mannah (c) 11. Manu Ma’u 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Nathan Brown Interchange: 14. Beau Scott (c) 15. Suaia Matagi 16. Kenny Edwards 17. Will Smith 18. Marata Niukore 19. Siosaia Vave 20. Michael Jennings 21. John Folau
Dragons: 1. Jason Nightingale 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Kurt Mann 4. Tim Lafai 5. Kalifa Faifai Loa 6. Gareth Widdop (c) 7. Josh McCrone 8. Russell Packer 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tariq Sims 12. Joel Thompson 13. Jack de Belin Interchange: 14. Jacob Host 15. Leeson Ah Mau 16. Hame Sele 17. Taane Milne 18. Jai Field 19. Tyrone McCarthy 20. Blake Lawrie 21. Will Matthews