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2021 NRL Round 11 Preview, Eels Vs Sea Eagles

Nathan Smith previews the Round 11 encounter between traditional rivals the Parramatta Eels and the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta, Date: Sunday, 23rd of May, Time: 4:05pm

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. Joey Lussick
17. Bryce Cartwright
18. Ray Stone
19. Keegan Hipgrave
20. Haze Dunster
21. Jordan Rankin

Team Changes

IN: Haze Dunster, Joey Lussick, Jordan Rankin
OUT:

Sea Eagles Team

1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Jason Saab
3. Brad Parker
4. Morgan Harper
5. Reuben Garrick
6. Cade Cust
7. Daly Cherry-Evans
8. Taniela Paseka
9. Lachlan Croker
10. Martin Taupau
11. Haumole Olakau’atu
12. Josh Schuster
13. Jake Trbojevic
14. Moses Suli
15. Zac Saddler
16. Sean Keppie
17. Toafofoa Sipley
18. Ben Trbojevic
19. Tevita Funa
20. Christian Tuipulotu
21. Jorge Taufua

Team Changes

IN: Ben Trbojevic, Christian Tuipulotu, Jorge Taufua, Tevita Funa
OUT: Kieran Foran

Referee: Adam Gee

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Eels

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Parramatta chalked up their ninth win of the year – beating the New Zealand Warriors. Largely on the back of a dominant first half, they were able to demonstrate their attacking prowess; however, they also let themselves down with defensive lapses that nearly let the Warriors back into the game.

Unsurprisingly, Brad Arthur has made very few changes to last week’s team. In fact, there is only one change, with Joey Lussick coming in for Ray Stone, who drops down to the extended bench. Having bided his time playing lower grades this year, Lussick will be eager to put in a stand out performance for the team.

Sea Eagles

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Manly continued a fantastic run of form that has seen them win four of their past five games, three of which were outright routs. Last week, they put Brisbane to the sword 50-6. They will be in for a challenge this week against the second-placed Eels; however, they have shown they are more than up to the challenge.

Manly will be without the luckless Kieran Foran, who injured himself during last week’s game. They don’t lose too much, with the reliable Cade Custing coming into the starting team. Furthermore, Martin Taupau gets his starting spot back, pushing Sean Keppie to the bench, while Zac Saddler comes up to the bench.

PREVIEW

This is one of rugby league’s great rivalries. It goes beyond their brutal encounters in the 80s, including both the ’82 and ’83 grand finals. It’s a rivalry that is defined by a socio-economic divide between the Western Sydney-based Parramatta team, and the Northern Beaches-based Manly team. That promises one thing: this will be a cracker.

Both sides come into this game in brilliant form. The Eels have only lost the one game this year, and made it five straight wins last week by beating the New Zealand Warriors. The big improvement they’ve demonstrated in the opening 10 rounds of this season has been their attack, with the Eels boasting the third-highest points tally in the competition.

Manly have turned a corner after looking like a bottom four team during the opening few games of the season. They’ve launched themselves into the top eight on the back of some dominant performances and are now in the conversation as a 2021 contender.

Parramatta will have to dismantle Tom Trbojevic’s game if they’re any chance of winning. It’s no coincidence that Manly’s form has coincided with the return of Trbojevic, who has posted some freakish statistics in every game he’s played since his return. There are many that would argue he is the number one fullback in the game, beyond even James Tedesco. Certainly, he’s one of the best players going around, and if he plays to his usual high standard, Manly are going to go close to winning.

Lussick will play only his second NRL game after debuting for the Sea Eagles way back in 2017. He moved onto the Salford Red Devils in 2018, chalking up 18 tries in 59 games and regularly impressing. Back in the NRL this year, he comes into the Eels team after some consistent performances for the NSW Cup side. Just as Jakob Arthur was able to seize the moment last week, Lussick will be looking to put his best foot forward and impress.

KEY STAT

The head-to-head stats between these sides are fairly lopsided. Manly have won 85 of their 143 encounters, demonstrating a fairly dominant run of success. In their two times playing at Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta have won twice, most notably during a controversial match last June that saw the Eels scrape home after scoring from a forward pass. Most recently, Manly defeated the Eels in July of 2020 (22-18) in a close encounter.

PREDICTION

This match will be tight as both sides are in red hot form. Parramatta will have their hands full trying to contain Tom Trbojevic, while Manly will have a big job in trying to slow down the Eels’ forward pack. This match could come down to the wire, with the boot of either Mitchell Moses or Daly Cherry-Evans deciding it. With the home ground advantage, the Eels might just sneak home.

Parramatta by one.

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Comments (1)

  1. Gary Steele

    Eels win by 24pts. Against manly too scared to play Kieran for an against his old team who he turncoats on his contract.

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