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2021 NRL Round 22 Preview, Sea Eagles Vs Eels

Nathan Smith previews the Round 22 clash between rivals the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles and the Parramatta Eels. This is what we have to look forward to.

TEAM NEWS

Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunshine Coast, Date: 14/8, Time: 7:35pm

Sea Eagles Team

1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Jason Saab
3. Brad Parker
4. Morgan Harper
5. Reuben Garrick
6. Kieran Foran
7. Daly Cherry-Evans
8. Josh Aloiai
9. Lachlan Croker
10. Martin Taupau
11. Haumole Olakau’atu
12. Josh Shuster
13. Jake Trbojevic
14. Dylan Walker
15. Karl Lawton
16. Curtis Sironen
17. Kurt de Luis
18. Moses Suli
19. Cade Cust
20. Jack Gosiewski
21. Ben Trbojevic

Team Changes

IN: Ben Trbojevic, Cade Cust, Curtis Sironen, Jack Gosiewski, Kurt De Luis
OUT: Taniela Paseka, Toafofoa Sipley

Eels Team

1. Clinton Gutherson
2. Maika Sivo
3. Tom Opacic
4. Waqa Blake
5. Michael Oldfield
6. Dylan Brown
7. Mitchell Moses
8. Isaiah Papli’i
9. Joey Lussick
10. Junior Paulo
11. Shaun Lane
12. Ryan Matterson
13. Nathan Brown
14. Will Smith
15. Bryce Cartwright
16. Maratak Niukore
17. Makahesi Makatoa
18. Ray Stone
19. Will Penisini
20. Haze Dunster
21. Jake Arthur

Team Changes

IN: Jake Arthur, Joey Lussick, Makahesi Makatoa, Michael Oldfield, Will Penisini
OUT: Oregon Kaufusi, Reed Mahoney

Referee: Grant Atkins

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles

Manly fell in a spirited effort against competition leaders, the Melbourne Storm, last week. Despite this, they are swiftly establishing themselves as competition heavyweights and sit two points outside of the top four. With a dominant win against the Eels, could claim their spot.

Des Hasler has had made minimal changes. Josh Aloiai comes into the starting side with Taniela Paseka out with injury. Kurt De Luis and Curtis Sironen will come onto the bench, with Toafofoa Sipley suspended.

Parramatta Eels

The Eels suffered their third straight loss, and one of their worst yet, with a 40-12 defeat to the South Sydney Rabbitohs. They are quickly fading away from their earlier season dominance and a loss this week could also see them slip out of the top four, meaning there is plenty to play for.

The Eels have lost Reed Mahoney for the season, which is a significant blow to any premiership hopes they had. Joey Lussick comes into the side, having last played during Round 16. Makahesi Makatoa will make his NRL debut from the bench while Michael Oldfield is set to make his Eels debut after replacing Haze Dunster at wing.

PREVIEW

This is a match will quite possibly reshape what the top eight looks like going into the finals, and therefore re-arrange any possible round one finals’ matches.

The Eels have been a top four mainstay throughout the season, yet after a few poor weeks, find themselves fourth only on their differential. Meanwhile, the Sea Eagles have been rocketing up the ladder since the return of potential Dally M Medalist Tom Trbojevic, and could seize the fourth position with a good win this week.

What does Parramatta need to do different to win? In short, everything. Their defence has leaked 68 points in the past two weeks. If that seems bad, their attack has only scored 12 points during that time period. A lot of the fundamentals that they’ve based their game off of throughout the season have slipped away quite drastically. Essentially, this week, Arthur could do worse than show them footage of what their defensive line has offered earlier in the year, or how dangerous their attack has been, and remind them that that’s exactly what they’re capable of.

Manly would be rubbing their hands together at the thought of having two bites of the cherry come finals time, and they’re every chance of it. Despite a flat start to the year, they have, arguably, the best player in the competition in Tom Trbojevic, who has pumped out superhuman stats throughout the season. Though they fell short against the Storm, there would be no shortage of confidence that they could take them in round one of the finals should they snag fourth spot.

There’s no question as to what the Eels have to watch out for in Manly’s attack. Their fullback, Trbojevic, has scored 18 tries, assisted 24 tries, and averaged at 174 metres per game. He will be the ultimate test against their recently brittle defence and near impossible to contain. The reality for Parramatta is this: if Trbojevic plays to even slightly below his best, Manly are likely coming out the winners.

The Eels need their halves pairing to step up and take control. Moses’ showed some flashes of brilliance last week, but will need to help convert more opportunities if they’re a chance. They have to back themselves to score points, and plenty of them, to boost the team’s overall confidence and attempt to escape their recent stiltedness.

KEY STAT

The head to head stats are overwhelmingly in the Sea Eagles favour, having won 86 of their 144 games. Earlier this year, the Sea Eagles won convincingly against the Eels 28-6. However, interestingly, they haven’t won both games against the Eels in a season since way back in 2013. If there’s a stat for the Eels to cling to, it’s that.

PREDICTION

The Eels should find some form for this match, particularly after the last two weeks. They will be determined to put in a performance more worthy of their position throughout the year. However, with a key middle in Reed Mahoney missing, the likes of Trbojevic will find success against tired forwards. Similarly, it’s difficult to determine how well Oldfield will be able to work on the edge, but with limited reserve grade played this year, he may be found out by more seasoned first graders. Manly should be winning.

Manly by 10

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