Nathan Smith previews the blockbuster encounter between the Eels and Storm. Here’s what we have to look forward to…
Parramatta Eels Vs Melbourne Storm
Venue: CommBank Stadium, Parramatta
Date: Thursday 1st September, 7:50pm (local)
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Viliami Penisini 4. Tom Opacic 5. Waqa Blake 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Isaiah Papali’i 13. Ryan Matterson 14. Makahesi Makatoa 15. Jakob Arthur 16. Oregon Kaufusi 17. Marata Niukore 18. Ofahiki Ogden 19. Bailey Simonsson 20. Bryce Cartwright 21. Sean Russell 22. Ky Rodwell
Brad Arthur has left the Eels 17 unchanged from last week’s win against the Broncos.Embed from Getty Images
Storm: 1. Nick Meaney 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Marion Seve 4. Justin Olam 5. Xavier Coates 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Harry Grant 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Josh King 14. Brandon Smith 15. Tui Kamikamica 16. Trent Loiero 17. Chris Lewis 18. Young Tonumaipea 19. Cooper Johns 20. Alec MacDonald 21. Jordan Grant 22. Jack Howarth
Tom Eisenhuth will miss the rest of the season, which brings Chris Lewis into the side. Felise Kaufusi will come onto the starting side for Tui Kamikamica, and Josh King has similarly come onto the starting side for Brandon Smith.
Referee: Adam Gee
Here we go. This Thursday, NRL fans will be treated to an early finals game. The Eels host the Storm, with the winner finishing fourth, the loser fifth. When you consider that no side has ever won the NRL from outside of the top four, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
The Eels made it two on the trot with another resounding win. They’ve scored nearly 100 points since being held to nil by the Rabbitohs only three weeks ago. The win put them in a position to still possibly nab fourth, but they needed a few results to go their way.
Unfortunately for the Storm, it was their loss the Eels were hoping for. They fell to the Roosters in a game that was touted as being as physically intense and demanding as any Origin match that’s been played. It was a treat to see the props going at each other, with the Roosters’ Jared Waerea-Hargreaves even getting sin-binned for his troubles. The loss would snap the Storm’s four-match winning streak and put their fourth spot on the line.
That brings us to this week. Neither side has the luxury of resting players a week out from the finals, because this is one. The fourth spot promises a week off and a shot at the preliminary, or a second chance if you lose. Finish fifth and it’s do or die from the very beginning.
The Eels have a full outfit, and as such, on paper, their back-line certainly looks more complete than the Storms’. One key to the recent success of either edge has been the work of both Shaun Lane and Isaiah Papali’i, who are both in career-best form. However, the key for the Eels isn’t too dissimilar to how the Roosters won: dominate the forwards. Junior Paulo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard will need to take on one of the most frightening men in the NRL, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, who will be aching after last week’s loss. Get the better of him, and the rest of the Storms’ forwards, and they will put themselves in a strong position to win.
The Storm has one thing that the Eels’ don’t have: x-factor. Cameron Munster, for example, has 14 try assists and averages 109 metres per game. Whenever he runs the ball, the opposition freeze, as if they’re playing touch, and he always seems to find a way through. Beyond that, they have the likes of Harry Grant and Brandon Smith, who are both elite players. Though there are a few injuries in their team, they simply have a lot more “big-game” players than the Eels. Blokes that have been there and done that, whether it’s grand finals or Origins. That will come in handy against an Eels team that has trembled on the big stage over the past few years.Embed from Getty Images
- The Eels have defeated the Storm on the past three occasions they’ve met.
- The Storm last defeated the Eels in a Qualifying Final match in 2020.
- The Storm has never defeated the Eels at CommBank Stadium. Furthermore, the Eels team boasts 7 wins from 10 matches at home in 2022.
- Overall, the Storm has a stronger head-to-head record, with 24 wins from their 41 encounters.
Parramatta Eels 1-12
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