Nathan Smith previews the Raiders and the Eels at GIO Stadium. Here’s what we have to look forward to…
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Raiders: 1. Xavier Savage 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Matthew Timoko 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Zac Woolford 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Adam Elliott 14. Tom Starling 15. Ryan Sutton 16. Sebastian Kris 17. Corey Horsburgh 18. Brad Schneider 19. Harry Rushton 20. James Schiller 21. Corey Harawira-Naera 22. Trey Mooney 23. Emre Guler 24. Matt Frawley
There are a few big changes for the Raiders this week. Jamal Fogarty will return from injury to play his first game of the season. Furthermore, captain Jarrod Croker returns from a shoulder injury to take his spot at centre. Finally, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad drops out of the side with a hamstring injury, to be replaced by Xavier Savage.Embed from Getty Images
Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Waqa Blake 3. Viliami Penisini 4. Tom Opacic 5. Bailey Simonsson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Marata Niukore 13. Isaiah Papali’i 14. Makahesi Makatoa 15. Ryan Matterson 16. Oregon Kaufusi 17. Nathan Brown 18. Bryce Cartwright 19. Jakob Arthur 20. Mitch Rein 21. Hayze Perham 22. Sean Russell 23. Ky Rodwell 24. Maika Sivo
Waqa Blake returns to the first grade side after missing a few weeks, pushing Hayze Perham out. Maika Sivo has been named on the extended bench after a successful return to reserve grade last week, however Brad Arthur may opt to bring him in after the bye round.
Referee: Todd Smith
The NRL season has reached its halfway point. It’s an opportunity for coaches, players and fans to take a moment to look at the ladder, reflect on the opening half of the season, and think about how their side is going.
It’s been a patchy ride for the Eels. One moment they’re beating frontrunners, such as Penrith and Melbourne, the next they’re dropping home games to struggling sides such as the Tigers. However, they sit equal fourth on points, and with a few key players set to return in coming weeks, the Eels are still very much in a comfortable position. With a bye after this round, this becomes a four point game, with an opportunity to reset and start again for the second half of the season.
The Raiders had just about hit rock bottom a few weeks ago. An error riddled loss to the Warriors was the wake up call they needed, with three straight impressive wins since then. Specifically, in the last two weeks the Raiders have won comfortably against the big improvers, the Sharks, and last year’s grand finalists, the Rabbitohs. This week they have an opportunity to continue that run of form against another top eight side, the Eels, and keep themselves within breathing distance of the top eight.
The middle of the field will feature a State of Origin battle just over a week before the first game. Props Josh Papalii and Junior Paulo, both near certain to play for their respective states, offer a mouth watering battle for fans to watch. When these sides last met, in July of last year, it was a gruelling affair that saw both sets of forwards relentlessly bash each other before the Raiders earned a hard fought victory at 12-10. Expect a similar battle this week.
Bailey Simonsson will be one to watch as he comes up against his old club for the first time. Moved along by the Raiders so they could make room for fan favourite Nick Cotric, he will be keen to put in a big performance. Though he hasn’t scored a load of tries this year (one), his work carrying the ball up to start the Eels’ sets has been reminiscent of the job Blake Ferguson has done in years past.
The return of captain Jarrod Croker will be one that lifts the Raiders. It was his initial return back in round nine that kicked off the Raiders winning run. Always reliable on the field, one thing that’s just as important is the respect and love the players and fans have for their club stalwart.Embed from Getty Images
- The overall head to head is fairly even, reading 32 wins to Raiders and 29 wins to Eels.
- The Raiders have an amazing record against the Eels at home. They’ve won 18 of their 23 games in the nation’s capital.
- There’s no clear dominance between either side in recent years, with the teams often going a win each in their two meetings.
Parramatta Eels 1-12
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