2021 NRL Round 20 Preview, Roosters Vs Eels

Andrew Pelechaty previews the massive top eight battle between the Sydney Roosters and Parramatta Eels in Mackay. This is what we have to look forward to.


Venue: BB Print Stadium, Mackay, Date: Thursday July 29, Time: 7:50pm

Roosters Team

  1. James Tedesco
  2. Daniel Tupou
  3. Josh Morris
  4. Adam Keighran
  5. Joseph Manu
  6. Drew Hutchison
  7. Sam Walker
  8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
  9. Sam Verrills
  10. Isaac Liu
  11. Angus Crichton
  12. Sitili Tupouniua
  13. Victor Radley
  14. Lachlan Lam
  15. Nat Butcher
  16. Egan Butcher
  17. Siosiua Taukeiaho
  18. Ben Marschke
  19. Fletcher Baker
  20. Moala Graham-Taufa
  21. Naufahu Whyte

Team Changes

IN: Ben Marschke
Josh Morris
Moala Graham-Taufa
Naufahu Whyte
Siosiua Taukeiaho

OUT: Billy Smith
Matt Ikuvalu

Eels Team

  1. Clinton Gutherson
  2. Maika Sivo
  3. Tom Opacic
  4. Waqa Blake
  5. Blake Ferguson
  6. Dylan Brown
  7. Jake Arthur
  8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
  9. Reed Mahoney
  10. Junior Paulo
  11. Isaiah Papali’i
  12. Ryan Matterson
  13. Nathan Brown
  14. Bryce Cartwright
  15. Shaun Lane
  16. Oregon Kaufusi
  17. Will Smith
  18. Haze Dunster
  19. Ray Stone
  20. Will Penisini
  21. Joey Lussick

Team Changes

IN: Haze Dunster
Joey Lussick
Ray Stone
Tom Opacic

Marata Niukore

Referee: Grant Atkins



While the footy injury gods continue to torment them, the Roosters find a way to keep winning and stay in the hunt for a vital top-four finish.

The Roosters did it comfortably against Newcastle, winning 28-8 despite more injuries, this time to Matt Ikuvalu and Billy Smith.

The Eastern Suburbs side’s 2021 casualty ward includes: Smith (foot), Ikuvalu (ankle), Sio Siua Taukeiaho (hamstring), Joseph Suaalii (foot), Luke Keary (ACL), Lindsay Collins (ACL), Boyd Cordner, Brett Morris, and Jake Friend (retired).

Many other clubs would have plummeted down the ladder, but – amazingly – the Roosters are in fifth place, and just one win behind this week’s opponent (Parramatta).

The Roosters have a coupe of big inclusions, with Josh Morris returning at centre and Taukeiaho back on the interchange bench.


The Eels have had a nasty recent history of losing form at the wrong time and falling out of the finals. With six rounds left, was the Eels’ loss to Canberra the start of their traditional Colliwobbles, or a minor hiccup against a desperate Raiders side?

While the Raiders – for once – controlled most of the match after an absorbing 0-0 first half (who said footy needed to be high scoring to be entertaining?), Parra nearly pinched it at the death when Maika Sivo dived for the corner, only to be stopped by a desperate Jordan Rapana hip-bump/tackle. It’s clear that Parramatta badly missed Mitchell Moses, who will also be out for the Roosters game.


This Mackay clash could decide the top four. Parramatta have a “final boss difficulty”-level run home, playing the Roosters, South Sydney, Manly-Warringah, Melbourne, and Penrith, with a “home” game (probably still in Queensland) against North Queensland their only reprieve. If Parramatta aren’t careful, their season could fall apart quickly.

The Roosters have a slightly easier run home, playing Penrith, Brisbane, St George Illawarra, Souths, and Canberra. The question is, if their injury curse continues, will their resolve start to fall away?

With the game in Mackay, and both teams playing last Friday, there’s no home ground or turnaround advantage for the Roosters or Eels here.

It’s really a case of who wants it more? With Parramatta’s horror run home, the Roosters will aim to leapfrog them into the top four, although the Eels have them covered on points differential.

While the Roosters have shown remarkable tenacity against teams below them, they’re 0-3 against Melbourne, Penrith, and Parramatta.


The Roosters have a 22-13 advantage since 1998, with one draw.

The Roosters have also won two of the past three game (24-10 in 2020, and 32-18 in 2019). Parramatta won the early clash this year, 31-18, in round nine.


We’re set for another Thursday night blockbuster with two teams looking to earn a vital finals double chance. The Eels are playing virtual semi-final footy from here on in, while the Roosters have a bit more leeway. The Eels’ desperation to keep their top four spot should be enough here.

Eels by four.

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    I want NRL round 20 predictions

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