Nathan Smith previews the Easter Monday clash between the Parramatta Eels and the Wests Tigers. Here’s what we have to look forward to…
Parramatta Eels Vs Wests Tigers
Venue: Commbank Stadium, Sydney
Date: Monday, 18th April, 4:00pm (local)
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Parramatta Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Viliami Penisini 3. Tom Opacic 4. Marata Niukore 5. Bailey Simonsson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Oregon Kaufusi 11. Shaun Lane 12. Isaiah Papali’i 13. Nathan Brown 14. Makahesi Makatoa 15. Ryan Matterson 16. Hayze Perham 17. Mitch Rein 18. Bryce Cartwright 19. Jakob Arthur 20. Wiremu Greig 21. Ky Rodwell 22. Samuel Loizou 23. Elie El Zakhem 24. Zac Cini
The Eels have had to reshuffle their backline due to yet another injury to a winger (Waqa Blake). As a result, Viliami Penisini shifts to the wing while Marata Niukore will play at centre. However, Brad Arthur has also picked Hayze Perham on the bench, which could suggest he will spend some time on the wing at some point. With Junior Paulo accepting a one-match ban, Oregon Kaufusi starts at prop.Embed from Getty Images
Wests Tigers: 1. Daine Laurie 2. David Nofoaluma 3. James Roberts 4. Luke Garner 5. Starford To’a 6. Luke Brooks 7. Jackson Hastings 8. James Tamou 9. Jake Simpkin 10. Zane Musgrove 11. Kelma Tuilagi 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Joe Ofahengaue 14. Jock Madden 15. Alex Twal 16. Thomas Mikaele 17. Alex Seyfarth 18. Tyrone Peachey 19. Jacob Liddle 20. Oliver Gildart 21. Ken Maumalo 22. Tukimihia Simpkins 23. Junior Tupou 24. Austin Dias
Michael Maguire has swung the axe after the Tigers’ fifth straight loss. Oliver Gildart, Ken Maumalo, Jacob Liddle and Tyrone Peachey have all been dropped. Starford To’a moves to the wing to accommodate Daine Laurie’s return, while James Roberts will return to centre. Jackson Hastings returns and receives the halfback jersey, which sees Luke Brooks shift to five-eighth. Finally, Jake Simpkin will start at hooker and Jock Madden will come off of the bench.
Referee: Chris Butler
For Eels and Tigers fans, Easter Monday is one of the matches to circle on their calendar. Since its inception back in 2014, this game has regularly drawn huge crowds and seen examples of both brilliant athleticism and fantastic sporting theatre.
Who can forget the excitement of their first Easter Monday encounter eight years ago, which saw the Tigers win 21-18 with Pat Richards kicking a penalty goal from the halfway line to ice it. Certainly, Tigers fans won’t. However, they might be more inclined to forget the result the last time these two sides played at CommBank Stadium, back in 2019, where the Eels christened their new home with a 51-6 win.
Both sides come into this match in extremely different positions from the other. The Wests Tigers are simply desperate for a win, having lost the opening five games of their season. Contrastingly, the Eels are in red hot form, having won four of their first five. What that amounts to for this upcoming game could be anything.
The common consensus is that the Eels’ form is too irresistible to go past. Their spine is firing, they’ve been consistent in each of their performances, and on a clear, sunny day at home in Parramatta, it will be too tough an ask of the Tigers. However, a desperate team can be a difficult team. The Tigers will throw anything and everything at the Eels to get over them and finally register their first pair of competition points for the year.
Jackson Hastings is the man to spark the Tigers’ attack. Michael Maguire has made the decision to hand him the keys to the team by starting him at halfback ahead of Luke Brooks, who moves to five-eighth. This is a decision that could certainly bear fruit for the Tigers. Hastings refined his craft over in England’s Super League, which saw him win their coveted Man of Steel award and feature in two Grand Finals. His guidance will be much needed for the Tigers. Furthermore, with the responsibility of guiding the side off of Brooks’ shoulders, he can focus on something most suggest is the strong point of his game: running the ball.
The Eels will look to Marata Niukore to do a job for them out wide. Last year, Waqa Blake was similarly injured early on in the season, which saw Niukore take his centre spot. Most wouldn’t have predicted that by the end of his stint at centre, he had nearly made the jersey his. Tough, uncompromising and fierce in defence, his presence out wide should not be seen by the Tigers as a weakness to be targeted. Reagan Campbell-Gillard will need to take ownership of the forward pack with his partner Junior Paulo out for one week. With an average of 173 metres per game thus far this year, there’s no reason to suggest he won’t put out another mammoth effort.Embed from Getty Images
- The Eels have won their past seven games against the Tigers.
- The Tigers’ last win against the Eels was their 2018 Easter Monday clash.
- The two sides have played 43 games between them overall, with the Eels sitting at 27 wins, and the Tigers at 15.
- The Tigers have never won at CommBank Stadium against the Eels.
Parramatta Eels 13+
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