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2021 NRL Round Two Preview, Eels Vs Storm

Nathan Smith previews the Parramatta Eels taking on the Melbourne Storm. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta, Date: Thursday the 18th of March, Time: 8.05pm

Eels Team

  1. Clinton Gutherson
  2. Maika Sivo
  3. Tom Opacic
  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. Oregon Kaufusi
  15. Isaiah Papali’i
  16. Will Smith
  17. Marata Niukore
  18. Keegan Hipgrave
  19. Haze Dunster
  20. Ray Stone
  21. Joey Lussick

Team Changes

IN: Haze Dunster, Joey Lussick, Marata Niukore, Ray Stone
OUT: N/A

Storm Team

  1. Ryan Papenhuyzen
  2. George Jennings
  3. Reimis Smith
  4. Justin Olam
  5. Josh Addo-Carr
  6. Cameron Munster
  7. Jahrome Hughes
  8. Jesse Bromwich
  9. Brandon Smith
  10. Christian Welch
  11. Felise Kaufusi
  12. Kenneath Bromwich
  13. Nelson Asofa-Solomona
  14. Tyson Smoothy
  15. Tui Kamikamica
  16. Tom Eisenhuth
  17. Chris Lewis
  18. Nicho Hynes
  19. Darryn Schonig
  20. Cooper Johns
  21. Dean Ieremia

Team Changes

IN: Cooper Johns, Darryn Schonig, Dean Ieremia, Nicho Hynes
OUT:
N/A

Referee: Ashley Klein

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Parramatta Eels

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It was a patchy first match for the Eels. They came into their Round One clash against the Brisbane Broncos as overwhelming favourites, only to find themselves down by 16 points at half-time. The second half was a much stronger performance, and more like what was to be expected, with the Eels piling on 24 unanswered points to win the match. The come from behind performance hasn’t strengthened their claims as a threat to the title. This week, they go from the wooden spooners to the reigning premiers; a huge jump. Should they concede points early against Melbourne, they can be certain there will be no coming back.

Melbourne Storm

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It was more of the same for Melbourne. With the confirmation that their captain Cameron Smith was in fact retiring, a brand new era had finally been ushered in for the Storm. An era that already promises to bring about the same fortunes their previous one did. It was particularly impressive given they took on the premiership heavyweights South Sydney, who many are tipping to factor heavily in the later stages of the season. Indeed, Melbourne is the juggernaut that keeps on delivering, and their first round victory demonstrates they aren’t slowing down.

PREVIEW

Melbourne will be the clear favourites coming into this game. The reigning NRL champions, they come off of an impressive match against the South Sydney Rabbitohs, which saw their new-look spine demonstrate that they may very well be able to emulate the heroic feats of their predecessors. Their explosive attack, clinical attention to detail and ability to convert pressure into points were all on display, exhibiting exactly why they have been such a consistently strong side for so long.

The Eels? They demonstrated why their performances have never convinced the critics that they’re capable of winning a competition. They came out against a Brisbane Broncos team that had come dead last in 2020, with only a handful of victories to their name. The match was a roller-coaster affair that saw the Eels hang on to win, but definitely not impress many viewers. With the Storm already firing and showing what they can do, the Eels will need to play a perfect game of footy to even compete. Though they are capable of winning any game on their day, it will be a tough night for the western Sydney team if they turn up and dish out a first half similar to last week.

KEY STAT

Melbourne has historically had a lot of success against the Eels. In the 38 matches they’ve played against each other, they’ve won 24 of them. The Eels have had particular trouble during the finals series, where they have failed to defeat the Storm in every single encounter. Last year, they two teams won one a piece during the regular season, though it must be noted that the Eels win, which occurred at Bankwest Stadium, was against a significantly weaker Storm team. All in all, most stats point to the Storm having a bit too much for the Eels.

PREDICTION

Sydney is currently drenched in rain, with the worst of it expected for Thursday. As such, one can expect this to be a slightly dour affair, with errors and mistakes inevitable. The difference? The Storm are clinical in their application, regardless of the conditions, while the Eels made a plethora of errors last week on a dry Brisbane night. Ultimately, the weather may help keep this close, however, the Storm should be too strong for the Eels, even at their traditionally fortress like home stadium. 

Storm by 8.

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