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2021 NRL Round 14 Preview, Eels Vs Tigers

Nathan Smith previews the Parramatta Eels up against the Wests Tigers. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta, Date: Sunday 13th June, Time: 4:05pm

Parramatta Eels Team

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

Team Changes

IN: Blake Ferguson, Jakob Arthur, Joey Lussick, Junior Paulo, Nathaniel Roache
OUT: Makahesi Makatoa, Reed Mahoney

Wests Tigers Team

1. Daine Laurie
2. David Nofoaluma
3. Adam Doueihi
4. Tommy Talau
5. James Roberts
6. Moses Mbye
7. Luke Brooks
8. James Tamou
9. Jacob Liddle
10. Alex Twal
11. Luke Garner
12. Luciano Leilua
13. Joe Ofahengaue
14. Stefano Utoikamanu
15. Shawn Bloore
16. Tom Amone
17. Alex Seyfarth
18. Michael Chee Kam
19. Billy Walters
20. Kelma Tuilagi
21. Jake Simpkin

Team Changes

IN: Billy Walters, Jake Simpkin, Joe Ofahenaue, Kelma Tuilagi
OUT: Thomas Mikaele

Referee: Grant Atkins

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Parramatta Eels

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The Parramatta Eels snapped a two game losing streak with a comprehensive win over the Newcastle Knights. They will be aiming to bring that form into this week’s game to put in a performance in front of their home fans.

Junior Paulo will back up from Origin and slot back into the starting side. The big out for the Eels is Reed Mahoney, who was injured last week. Joey Lussick will slot into the starting hooker role as a result. Blake Ferguson has not been recalled, with the impressive Haze Dunster holding his spot. With Ferguson off contract at the end of this year, and Dunster a future star for the club, one has to wonder whether Ferguson will see another first grade game in 2021.

Wests Tigers

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The Tigers made it two straight wins for the first time this year with a win against the Panthers last week. Though much will be made of the Penrith side being understrength due to Origin, the Tigers were impressive in defence and attack and had earned their win. They come up against another rival, the Eels, this week, and should they win, put themselves in touching distance of the top eight.

The only change will be the inclusion of Joe Ofahenaue, who returns from Origin camp. Otherwise, Maguire has had no reason to change around a team that is stringing wins together, and has thus backed them to do it again.

PREVIEW

Both of these sides, and their fans, hate each other.

The rivalry has developed over the years. The Easter Monday clash between the two sides, which has taken place for over a decade, is one reason for this. Those encounters have featured a range of memorable moments for both sets of fans to gloat about.

Then there’s the opening of Bankwest Stadium and the discussion of whose home it is. With both sides sharing the stadium, fans have engaged in healthy banter about this. Naturally, Parramatta fans suggest it’s their rightful home, given it is built over the site of their past playing surfaces. With tongue in cheek, Wests Tigers’ fans declared it their own upon the announcement they would be sharing it, with a suggestion the orange paint throughout the stadium (the colour of major sponsor Bankwest) representative of their team’s own colours.

And of course, in the end, they’re both sides with western Sydney following. You’ll find it hard to find more passionate, devout fans of any sports team anywhere. With these different factors in mind, it’s clear why this is an encounter that fans salivate over.

So what do we have to look forward to? The Tigers are hitting form. They’ve been inconsistent in 2021, and in fairness, have been inconsistent for a very long time, having not made the finals since way back in 2011. One thing Tigers fans can be happy about is despite a poor opening half to the season, they haven’t thrown in the towel. Now on a two game winning streak, the fate of their 2021 season is in their hands. They have every chance of making the finals for the first time in a long time.

The Eels have been more good than bad. With only three losses for the year, they’ve cemented themselves in the top four. The question marks over their credentials as a premiership side continue to linger, given they have at times switched off during games. Parramatta have to face up to the fact that a win this week should be the expectation, given the placement of both sides on the ladder. A loss will see them lose touching distance with the top two and cause the questions around their season to only grow louder.

The match up between former teammates Moses and Brooks will be a feature. Both players have been praised and maligned throughout the season but their respective sets of fans. At their best, they’re destructive attacking halves, and at their worst, unable to steer their sides out of trouble. While Moses has found more consistent form than not this year, Brooks has struggled. More recently, especially during their past two wins, he’s been able to play his natural game more effectively and demonstrate the value he can add to a team. Whichever half turns up and plays to their potential puts their team in prime position for victory.

KEY STAT

The Eels have a three year winning streak over the Tigers, with their last loss to their opposition coming back in 2018. Earlier this year, they were able to win in convincing fashion 36-22. Most notably, the Eels have never lost to the Tigers at Bankwest Stadium. The Tigers will be desperate to break the hoodoo, however, will find it very tough to do so if the stats hold true.

PREDICTION

A sunny, winter’s afternoon in Sydney should make for an exciting brand of footy to be played between both sides. Their most recent encounter was a high scoring affair with both sides chalking up double digit figures, and this match could play out in similar fashion. Overall, the Eels should come out with the win and do so fairly convincingly.

Eels by 13

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