Jem Nash previews the final round clash between the Wests Tigers and Parramatta Eels, where the Eels will be hoping to lock up a top four spot against the Tigers – who are looking ahead to 2021.
The Tigers were never really in it against the Storm last week, as they were outclassed by a far superior outfit in a 50-22 loss. It’s been another disappointing campaign for the Tigers as they will miss the finals for the ninth straight year. If they’re any chance of beating the Eels, they’ll need their defence to step up after conceding at least 26 points in their last nine games for just two wins.
The Eels bounced back from an 18-point loss to the Panthers, taking care of the Broncos in a 26-12 win last week. Despite the victory, there is still plenty of work to be done if this team hopes to contend for a title. After bouncing out to a 20-6 lead, the Eels could only manage six points in the second half against the worst side in the competition. There’s plenty on the line for Brad Arthur’s squad this week, with a win locking up a top four finish and a second chance come finals.
1 Adam Doueihi 2 David Nofoaluma 3 Tommy Talau 4 Chris Lawrence 5 Asu Kepaoa 6 Benji Marshall 7 Luke Brooks 8 Zane Musgrave 9 Harry Grant 10 Thomas Mikaele 11 Luke Garner 12 Luciano Leilua 13 Alex Twal 14 Matthew Eisenhuth 15 Elijah Taylor 16 Shawn Blore 17 Michael Chee-Kam 18 Alex Seyfarth 19 Jacob Liddle 20 Josh Reynolds 21 Joseph Leilua.
A lot of changes for the Tigers this week, with Luke Brooks returning from suspension in place of Josh Reynolds, Tommy Talau starting in the centres with Joey Leilua making way, and Alex Twal returning at lock with Matthew Eisenhuth moving back to the bench. Luke Garner will start in the second row, with Sam McIntyre out with a head knock; Elijah Taylor, Shawn Blore, and Michael Chee-Kam join the bench, with Jacob Liddle and Russell Packer missing out.
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 Will Smith 15 Andrew Davey 16 Kane Evans 17 Oregon Kaufusi 18 Haze Dunster 19 Brad Takairangi 20 George Jennings 21 Daniel Alvaro
Junior Paulo and Shaun Lane are back in the starting side, with Kane Evans and Andrew Davey returning to the bench.
The Eels have won six of their past seven games against the Tigers, the most recent a 26-16 win back in round 11.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Harry Grant vs Reed Mahoney
Grant will be looking for a big game in his last appearance in a Tigers jersey. The young hooker makes the Tigers a far better side when he features and they are going to need a big performance from him if they’re any hope of coming away with a win.
Mahoney has been arguably the most consistent performer for the Eels in 2020 and is right in the conversation for a Queensland debut when State of Origin kicks off in November. His delivery from dummy half is always crisp and he has an underrated kicking game, with five forced drop outs for the year.
Eels by six.
Date: Saturday, September 26.
Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Sydney.