Nathan Smith previews the Parramatta Eels hosting the Melbourne Storm. This is what we have to look forward to.
Parramatta were on the receiving end of their third loss of the season (falling to the under-performing St George Illawarra Dragons last week); an inevitable consequence of a month of poor form. They now come up against a premiership heavyweight in the Melbourne Storm.
Melbourne have been typical Melbourne, claiming their eighth win in a row last week with a thoroughly convincing demolition of the back-to-back premiers the Sydney Roosters. They will be aiming for nine straight wins this week as they continue to push for a third premiership under Craig Bellamy.
1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Waqa Blake 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Nathan Brown 14. Ray Stone 15. Marata Niukore 16. Kane Evans 17. Oregon Kaufusi 18. Andrew Davey 19. Haze Dunster 20. Will Smith 21. Brad Takairangi.
1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Sandor Earl 3. Brenko Lee 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Ryley Jacks 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Brandon Smith 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 14. Nicholas Hynes 15. Tom Eisenhuth 16. Albert Vete 17. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 18. Marion Seve 19. Chris Lewis 20. Cooper Johns 21. Darryn Schonig.
The head-to-head stats aren’t pretty for Parramatta. Melbourne have defeated them on 23 of their 36 games played against each other. Furthermore, in 2019, they were defeated by Melbourne at scores of 64-10 and 32-0. You’d have to go all the way back to 2017 to find the last time the Eels have defeated the Storm. Overall, the numbers point towards nothing other than a Melbourne win.
BATTLE TO WATCH
The NSW Wingers: Blake Ferguson vs Josh Addo-Carr
It’s been a contrast of seasons between the two men that helped New South Wales win their second straight Origin last year.
Josh Addo-Carr has been at his typical best: 10 tries, two try assists, and an average of 124 running metres per game. As always, give him a few inches of space, and his blistering speed will swiftly put the opposition in the distance. He’ll be a handful to contain and will likely trouble the Eels all night.
His good mate Ferguson, who was one of the game’s best wingers in 2019, is still awkwardly sitting at zero tries for the year. Though he came very close a few weeks ago against the Tigers, with an earlier knock on denying him the points. He’s made uncharacteristic errors too, with some poor handling and a “Sydney Harbour Bridge” pass in the Sharks game that handed possession over almost immediately. Despite this, he is still averaging 164 running metres a game and is helping his forwards have a rest by taking plenty of carries. With the season nearing its end, he’ll be desperate to find the line.
Both players will bring plenty of energy to their sides, and though Addo-Carr has been by far the superior winger in 2020, Ferguson will be keen to show him up on Thursday night and breathe some life into his own form.
It’s hard to see anything other than a Melbourne win this week. Parramatta have been poor against opposition far lower on the table, while Melbourne are coming off a convincing win over the reigning premiers. Bankwest is often dewy at night, which might stifle the attack of both teams; however, it should still be a comfortable victory to Melbourne.
Melbourne by 12.
Date: Thursday, August 20.
Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta.
Kick-off: 7:50pm (local).