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2021 NRL Round Nine Preview, Eels Vs Roosters

Nathan Smith previews the Parramatta Eels against the Sydney Roosters. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Date: 7/5, Time: 7:55pm

Eels Team

1. Clinton Gutherson
2. Maika Sivo
3. Tom Opacic
4. Marata Niukore
5. Blake Ferguson
6. Dylan Brown
7. Mitchell Moses
8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
9. Reed Mahoney
10. Junior Paulo
11. Isaiah Papali’i
12. Ryan Matterson
13. Nathan Brown
14. Oregon Kaufusi
15. Shaun Lane
16. Haze Dunster
17. Bryce Cartwright
18. Joey Lussick
19. Keegan Hipgrave
20. Wiremu Greig
21. Jordan Rankin

Team Changes

IN: Joey Lussick, Jordan Rankin, Keegan Hipgrave
OUT:

Roosters Team

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

Team Changes

IN: Adam Keighran, Daniel Suluka-Fifita, Egan Butcher, Fletcher Baker, James Tedesco, Lachlan Lam, Naufahu Whyte
OUT: Brett Morris, Lindsay Collins, Sam Verrills, Sitili Tupounia

Referee: Matt Cecchin

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Eels

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Parramatta continued their winning ways with a comprehensive victory over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs last week. This match shapes up as another opportunity for them to prove themselves against a contender and it will be a difficult assignment.

Despite coming off of the field injured, Nathan Brown takes his spot in the line-up, which remains unchanged. Brad Arthur has stuck with giving young gun Haze Dunster a spot on the bench to give him some game time, so expect him to take the place of Blake Ferguson at some point during the game.

Roosters

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The Roosters chalked up their sixth win of the year after thrashing the Newcastle Knights. Despite the injuries they’ve faced, they’ve continued to impress, and will be looking to continue to defy adversity this week when they take on the second-placed Eels.

The Roosters have had a horror run with injuries this year, with last week’s game being more of the same. Brett Morris, who has been the form winger of the game, suffered a season-ending injury that may also spell the end of his career. This adds to a list of quality players who are missing, such as Luke Keary and Lindsay Collins. With a range of players rushed in to fill the gaps, the Roosters will have to fight for everything this season.

PREVIEW

This one shapes up as a blockbuster between two premiership hopes in 2021.

The Eels are back at Bankwest Stadium for the first time since their shock loss against the Dragons, and they will undoubtedly be determined to turn up with a better attitude than that particular game to get a win for their home fans.

The Roosters are their usual consistent selves, though immensely hindered by injury. The big question for them will be as to whether the most recent losses in Brett Morris and Collins will finally be one injury too many.

Sydney will be experiencing rain throughout the week and on the day of the game, so the surface will be dewy. For Parramatta, it will bring back thoughts of their round two win over the Storm in similar conditions, where they were able to grind their way towards a win. For the Roosters, it will be business as usual: they will expect to win.

In terms of players to watch, it’s impossible to go past Sam Walker. He’s done a tremendous job to shoulder the expectations of a club as big as the Roosters as the chief play-maker, with an amazing total of 12 try assists in only five games. Much has been said of how his father, Ben Walker, coaches teams to play without fear; well, watching Sam, it’s clear his dad has had a bit to do with him, because he plays as if every pass will stick and every kick will find its mark.

Plenty of eyes will be on Bryce Cartwright this week, who has been tremendous over the past few weeks after a poor showing in his Eels debut against the Dragons. He’s quickly building a case for a new contract with three try assists in his four games, many of which have been on the back of spectacular build-up plays. A few more starring performances and Arthur will likely give him another year or two.

KEY STAT

In recent years, the Roosters have had the wood on Parramatta. They previously met in June last year, where the Roosters came away 24-10 winners in an intense encounter that saw Parramatta leading with 20 to go, only for the Roosters to put a few tries on them and win it. Before that, the Roosters beat them more comprehensively 32-18 in 2019. However, their overall head-to-head is quite close, with the Roosters holding the lead with 66 wins of their 133 games played. Ultimately the stats, especially in recent times, suggest it will take a fair bit for the Eels to get up for this one.

PREDICTION

This one will be a wet game, and so, may not see as many points as either side has scored in recent games. Further, if it matches half of the intensity that was on display when they last played, you can expect a tough, bruising encounter. With Parramatta putting out a full-strength side, they are favourites to win. They should get up for this game, though the Roosters will be in it until the end.

Parramatta by four.

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