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2021 NRL Round 15 Preview, Eels Vs Bulldogs

Nathan Smith previews the Parramatta Eels up against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta, Date: Sunday 20th of June, Time: 2:00pm

Eels Team

1. Clinton Gutherson
2. Sean Russell
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. Keegan Hipgrave
17. Nathaniel Roache
18. Oregon Kaufusi
19. Blake Ferguson
20. Bryce Cartwright
21. Jakob Arthur

Team Changes

IN: Blake Ferguson, Jakob Arthur, Keegan Hipgrave, Nathaniel Roache, Sean Russell
OUT: Maika Sivo, Will Smith

Bulldogs Team

1. Nick Meaney
2. Nick Cotric
3. Will Hopoate
4. Aaron Schoupp
5. Tuipulotu Katoa
6. Brandon Wakeham
7. Jake Avarillo
8. Jack Hetherington
9. Jeremy Marshall-King
10. Luke Thompson
11. Adam Elliott
12. Matt Doorey
13. Josh Jackson
14. Sione Katoa
15. Dylan Napa
16. Ava Seumanufagai
17. Corey Waddell
19. Kyle Flanagan
20. Joe Simson
21. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
23. Jackson Topine

Team Changes

IN: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Jackson Topine, Joe Stimson
OUT:

Referee: Matt Cecchin

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Eels

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Parramatta made it 80 points in two weeks after putting 40 on the Wests Tigers in Round 14. Their past couple of wins have helped reaffirm their top four aspirations, with the Eels now sitting only two points beneath both the Melbourne Storm and Penrith Panthers.

Maika Sivo sits this week out having copped a suspension, which allows the young star Sean Russell to come in for his first grade debut. Bryce Cartwright and Oregon Kaufusi have both been sent to reserve grade, with Keegan Hipgrave and Nathaniel Roache to take their place on the bench.

Bulldogs

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The Bulldogs picked up their second win of the year and did it convincingly, putting 28 points on the hapless St George Illawarra Dragons. For the Bulldogs, there will be no aspirations of creeping into the top eight; however, they will be looking to build some consistency in the back end of the season with 2022 in mind.

PREVIEW

One of the great rivalries in rugby league, these match ups are at their best when both clubs are at their best.

On paper, and the season’s form, it’s easy to suspect it might be a one-sided affair. The Eels sit firmly in the top four, having lost three games this season, while the 2021 Bulldogs are battling to avoid the wooden spoon.

Bulldogs fans would take some hope from looking at the 2021 results thus far and reading aloud that although the Eels fell to the Dragons, the Bulldogs comprehensively beat them last start. A chance?

There is the fact that the Eels will field a fairly inexperienced winger pairing, with Sean Russell on debut and Haze Dunster in his first handful of matches. Nick Cotric, who has played in a grand final and at representative level, is a good chance of steamrolling either player in close proximity.

The Bulldogs attack seemed to finally come to life with Jake Averillo the key. If they are any chance of getting the win this week, it will fall on his shoulders to ensure their attack picks up from where it left off last week.

The Eels won’t be getting ahead of themselves. In 2020, when both sides were in similar positions on the ladder, the Eels were able to come out winners in a close scoring affair (18-16). Parramatta will need to play patient footy rather than expect points to be an inevitable consequence of the encounter, as this arrogant train of thought will only hinder them.

KEY STAT

The head-to-head encounters between these sides is slightly in the Bulldogs’ favor, having won 77 of their 149 games. At Bankwest Stadium, it’s one a piece, with the Bulldogs one of the first few teams to beat the Eels at the newly built stadium back in 2019. Certainly, the history is there to back up the Bulldogs.

PREDICTION

The Bulldogs will be playing with confidence after last week. Given it’s the Eels they’re up against, you’d think they’d be fired up for this one as well. Expected rainy conditions may hinder the attack of both sides, which could turn it into a bit of a grind. Overall, the Eels should have too much class for the Bulldogs.

Eels by 14.

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