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2021 NRL Round 10 Preview, Warriors Vs Eels

Nathan Smith previews the New Zealand Warriors up against the Parramatta Eels. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Date: Sunday 16th of May, Time: 1.50pm

Warriors Team

1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
2. Edward Kosi
3. Adam Pompey
4. Rocco Berry
5. Ken Maumalo
6. Kodi Nikorima
7. Chanel Harris-Tavita
8. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown
9. Wayde Egan
10. Kane Evans
11. Josh Curran
12. Ben Murdoch-Masila
13. Tohu Harris
14. Jazz Tevaga
15. Leeson Ah Mau
16. Bunty Afoa
17. Reece Walsh
18. Bayley Sironen
20. Jack Murchie
21. Eliesa Katoa
22. Euan Aitken

Team Changes

IN: Ben Murdoch-Masila, Eliesa Katoa, Euan Aitken
OUT:

Eels Team

1. Clinton Gutherson
2. Maika Sivo
3. Tom Opacic
4. Waqa Blake
5. Blake Ferguson
6. Jakob Arthur
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. Ray Stone
17. Bryce Cartwright
18. Joey Lussick
19. Keegan Hipgrave
20. Haze Dunster
21. Jordan Rankin

Team Changes

IN: Jakob Arthur, Joey Lussick, Jordan Rankin, Nathan Brown, Ray Stone, Waqa Blake
OUT: Dylan Brown, Marata Niukore, Wiremu Greig

Referee: Ashley Klein

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Warriors

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The Warriors were defeated by the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles last week in a high-scoring affair. It’s not very often a team finds itself with 32 points on the board only to come out the losers, however that was the reality the Warriors had to face. Dissecting the match would be simple enough for the coach: keep the attack and defend better. Sitting in eighth, they will be looking to solidify their spot in the top half of the competition with a win against competition heavyweights the Parramatta Eels.

Coach Nathan Brown has kept mostly the same side, with the main change being the return of Ben Murdoch-Masila to the starting side at second row.

Eels

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Parramatta chalked up another win last week against a depleted Roosters team. A lot has been said about the Eels’ inability to put them away; however, they would have simply been happy to have finally beaten the Roosters for the first time in several years.

The big in this week is the coaches son, Jakob Arthur. Having impressed at junior level, he gets his opportunity after Dylan Brown’s suspension, and Will Smith’s injury, opened up a position. A return that has flown under the radar as a result is that of Waqa Blake, who has big shoes to fill after Marata Niukore just about made that centre position his prior to injury. Nathan Brown (not to be confused with his namesake Warriors coach) comes in at lock, which pushes Shaun Lane to the bench. Ray Stone will also return to his bench spot, with Keegan Hipgrave to make way.

PREVIEW

Parramatta have bad memories of Magic Round. The one and only time it was held, back in 2019, they were on the back of a 60+ point walloping courtesy of the Melbourne Storm. The Warriors, on the other hand, were winners against the Dragons.

Judging 2019 form, of course, means very little coming into this match, but the Eels’ horrific first crack at Magic Round is hard to forget. Coming into this game, Parramatta are deserved favourites, having only lost the one match all year. The Warriors, on the other hand, have not been too dissimilar to years past: they are inconsistent and have yet to string together two straight wins.

The key for the Warriors’ victory lies with two particular men. One, unquestionably, is Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. Having been a consistently great fullback in an underperforming team for many years, one would forgive him for occasionally clocking off. That’s never been the case, however, with his average run metres this year sitting at 219. With the ball in hand, he’s going to find space, it’s a simple fact.

The other player the Warriors will look to for spark during the later stages of the game is Brisbane Broncos junior Reece Walsh. Currently coming off of the bench, he serves as an X-factor that can change the momentum of a game in an instant. Last week against Manly, he scored a try late in the game to try and resuscitate the Warriors’ chances of victory. Though it wasn’t to be, there’s no question that when the forwards are tired, he’ll be looking around to expose them.

There’s plenty of Eels players putting out what are now expected performances, so let’s consider a couple of blokes that will want to stamp themselves on this match. The first, Waqa Blake, will want to have a blinder after losing his centre position to Niukore due to injury. During that time, Niukore has impressed at centre and in the opinions of many, performed better defensively than Blake has in the past. Given Niukore now sits out injured, Blake will want to ensure the coach and fans are aware of his talent.

Finally, it’s hard to go past Jakob Arthur. Certainly, he won’t shoulder the burden of guiding his team to victory. It’s often said in rugby league that it’s up to the senior players to win the game, with the younger fellas there to support and learn. So though he won’t be a key to them winning the game, a solid showing on the night (which is as simple as making his tackles and organising his forwards), might offer the Eels fans, and indeed his father (coach Brad Arthur), a look at what the future holds for the western Sydney club.

KEY STAT

Both sides have a pretty even head-to-head record, with the Eels edging in front with 23 wins from their 41 games. Parramatta has defeated the Warriors in their last two encounters, albeit in close games with the 2019 iteration seeing a controversial forward pass call deny the Warriors a winning try. Neither side has met at Suncorp Stadium before, though the Eels opened their 2021 account with a victory over the Broncos at the Cauldron. Overall, the stats indicate the Warriors will be in for the fight and could keep it close.

PREDICTION

The Eels have been coming home late in most of their matches this year. It might just be the case this weekend against the Warriors, with the match likely to feature a tight encounter for the first 60 minutes before the Eels string together a few tries to ultimately seal the victory.

Parramatta by 16.

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