Nathan Smith previews the match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Parramatta Eels. This is what we have to look forward to.
New Zealand Warriors
The Warriors continued to impress, given their circumstances, with a 36-6 win over the Knights. With that win, they sit at ninth and four points outside the top eight. With a few games left for the year, it would take a strong run home to sneak in; however few would doubt there’s any team more deserving of a spot in the finals than the Warriors.
Parramatta placed a firm exclamation mark on a month of poor footy and close wins with a convincing loss to the Rabbitohs at 38-0. They were never in the game and have raised plenty of doubts over their hopes leading into the finals. They need to show their worth in the next few weeks or risk being easybeats come finals time.
New Zealand Warriors
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. Adam Pompey 3. Hayze Perham 4. Peta Hiku 5. Gerard Beale 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Chanel Harris-Tavita 8. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 9. Karl Lawton 10. Lachlan Burr 11. Jack Murchie 12. Tohu Harris 13. Jazz Tevaga 14. Wayde Egan 15. Adam Blair 16. Josh Curran 17. Isaiah Papali’i 18. Paul Turner 20. Tom Ale 21. Adam Keighran.
1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Waqa Blake 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Jai Field 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. Haze Dunster 19. Andrew Davey 20. Brad Takairangi 21. Stefano Utoikamanu.
These two teams have played 44 games against each other, with Parramatta holding a slight advantage with 22 wins. Their head-to-head form in recent times has been even, with both teams having met on four occasions since 2017, at two wins a piece. Neither side has met at Central Coast Stadium before; however, the the Warriors have won three of their matches hosted there this year, and have come close against strong opposition such as the Roosters and Penrith.
BATTLE TO WATCH
The Workhorses: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck vs Clinton Gutherson
The two captains of their respective teams. Two men who, regardless of the result, are guaranteed to get a pat on the back from the coach. Both of these players have been the central, driving forces for their teams’ successes in 2020.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s work in 2020 has been nothing short of inspirational. We know the player he can be, and has been; however, the rugby league world has now also learned a lot about the personal qualities he holds. Tuivasa-Sheck is the only player in the team who has not seen his family since the NRL bubble was established. Despite this, he’s led by example with 342 runs, 3345 running metres and 72 tackle breaks. His average metres run per game sits at a remarkable 192. He is leadership personified and will, like every other week, be a huge force for the Warriors on Sunday.
Gutho continues to amaze with some of his efforts. It’s becoming evident, that after the drawn out contractual negotiations last year, Parramatta will probably need to add a bit more to his contract in due time. He’s that important. If Roger’s stats seem remarkable, it’s important to note that Gutherson is only just behind him with 325 runs and 3261 running metres. The one area he trumps Tuivasa-Sheck in is kick return metres, with 1246.
This is a match-up between two in-form fullbacks who are close to even in terms of statistics. It will be one to watch.
A few weeks ago, the average punter might say Parramatta by 30. However, the form of both sides has drastically changed in recent rounds. Parramatta are coming off of a huge loss and the Warriors are coming off of a huge win. For the Warriors, it’s a case of continuing on with how they’ve performed in recent weeks. Parramatta will win, given the Warriors‘ tendency for inconsistency, but it’s hard to see it being a dominant one given their attacking woes in 2020.
Parramatta by six.
Date: Sunday, September 6.
Venue: Central Coast Stadium.
Kick-off: 4.05pm (local)