Long time rivals the Canterbury Bulldogs and Parramatta Eels, will meet at ANZ Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Canterbury Bulldogs were disappointing in their opening game of the season against the New Zealand Warriors last week, where they went down 40-6. They will be looking to turn that around this week against the Eels.
The Parramatta Eels kicked off their 2019 season with an unexpected 20-12 win against the Penrith Panthers. Brad Arthur will be hoping they can build on that performance against a team that struggled last week.
The Bulldogs have named an unchanged 17 despite last week’s performance. Dean Pay has opted to show faith in his players and provide them with the opportunity to rebound from defeat.
Canterbury Bulldogs 22-man squad: 1 Will Hopoate, 2 Christian Crichton, 3 Kerrod Holland, 4 Marcelo Montoya, 5 Reimis Smith, 6 Kieran Foran, 7 Lachlan Lewis, 8 Aiden Tolman, 9 Michael Lichaa, 10 Dylan Napa ,11 Josh Jackson, 12 Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 13 Adam Elliott, 14 Jeremy Marshall-King, 15 Danny Fualalo, 16 Corey Harawira-Naera, 17 Sauaso Sue, 19 Jack Cogger, 20 Nick Meaney, 21 Chris Smith, 22 Ofahiki Ogden
Parramatta has made several changes this week. Michael Jennings (suspension), Nathan Brown (pectoral injury) and Will Smith (broken arm) are out. Josh Hoffman will fill in at centre and Junior Paulo will return from injury at prop. Tepai Moeroa will move to lock and Jaeman Salmon will come onto the bench.
Parramatta Eels 21-man squad: 1 Clinton Gutherson, 2 Maika Sivo, 3 Josh Hoffman, 4 Brad Takairangi, 5 Blake Ferguson, 6 Dylan Brown, 7 Mitchell Moses, 8 Daniel Alvaro, 9 Reed Mahoney, 10 Junior Paulo, 11 Shaun Lane, 12 Marata Niukore, 13 Tepai Moeroa, 14 Jaeman Salmon, 15 Tim Mannah, 16 Kane Evans, 17 David Gower, 18 Bevan French, 19 Oregon Kafusi, 20 George Jennings, 21 Andrew Davey
HEAD TO HEAD
Matches between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Parramatta Eels are often close affairs, with their past two featuring margins of six and eight respectively. On the first occasion, which saw the Bulldogs win 20-12, Clinton Gutherson was responsible for a game-changing error which allowed the Bulldogs to score and attain ascendancy. The two sides met later in the year, which saw Parramatta win 14-8 in a low-scoring affair.
The Parramatta Eels and Canterbury Bulldogs have met on 41 occasions since 1998, with the Bulldogs narrowly leading with 21 wins to the Eels’ 19. The Bulldogs have a slightly higher winning rate at ANZ Stadium, winning 56% of their matches there, while the Eels sit at a below average winning rate of 47%.
There are several key match ups that will go a long way towards deciding who wins this match. Star signing Dylan Napa will look to contribute a lot more than last week’s effort of 78 metres. He will need to take charge and lead the Bulldogs forwards against an Eels pack that features the returning Junior Paulo. Averaging 101 running metres across the 2018 season, he will add some much needed size up front for the Eels. Whoever comes out on top between these two props will go a long way towards helping their side achieve victory. Additionally, Kieran Foran will need to direct his team and convert possession into points, which was something the Bulldogs struggled to do last week. Opposing him will be Dylan Brown, an exciting young prospect who played a handy role on debut in last week’s victory. On the back of their forwards, it will be up to these men to get their team on the board.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday March 24
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Kick-off: 4:05pm (local)
Referee: Ben Cummins and Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
WHO WILL WIN?
The Bulldogs, despite last week’s scoreline, completed 88% of their sets. They will need to generate more points from their completions if they are to win this week. Parramatta were impressive and looked dangerous, however it was on the back of multiple errors by the Penrith Panthers. They will be looking to prove that victory was no fluke and build on their prior performance. Expect an improved defensive effort by the Bulldogs and a continuation of the two sides’ recent history of close games.
Parramatta by 12.