Full Time
4:05pm Sun August 4, 2019
Round 20 - Netstrata Jubilee Stadium - Crowd: 9645

Round 20: Dragons v Eels preview

With their finals hopes extinguished, the Dragons look to breathe fire against the Eels

Pride will be on the line as the Dragons close out their 2019 campaign.

After lethargic efforts against Canberra and Penrith, the two-point defeat to the second-placed Rabbitohs was certainly an improvement, particularly in defence.

Cameron McInnes' charge down should be put on replay during training sessions this week as a perfect example of what Paul McGregor will want out of his men.

After an embarrassing end to the year, McGregor will want to see more efforts similar to that of McInnes regardless of what the score line may be.

The only changes for the Dragons this week see Patrick Kaufusi and Jeremy Latimore come onto the bench for Josh Kerr and Matt Dufty.

For Parramatta, a relatively soft run home means they should quite comfortably qualify for the finals.

However, having transformed Bankwest Stadium into a fortress, they will be desperate to hold onto sixth position and a home final.

Last week's victory over the Warriors was anything but convincing and coach Brad Arthur will be looking for a more complete performance against the Dragons.

In particular he will be hoping they can get the fundamentals right after making 15 errors in last week's win.

They can't be producing those sorts of numbers in the finals, otherwise they will find themselves quickly knocked out of the competition.

This week they welcome Michael Jennings back from a knee injury, pushing Brad Takairangi to the wing.

Shaun Lane also makes his comeback from a finger injury in place of Marata Niukore who goes back to the bench.

Last meeting: Round 8 2019 - Eels 32 Dragons 18

Who to watch: In recent weeks, the Dragons have struggled due to stale and uninspiring attack. They may possess one of the best forward packs on paper but a power game through the middle doesn't always work and variation is needed at times. That is what Luciano Leilua brings. A ball-playing forward with the skills to break open a game.

Back in first-grade, all eyes will be on Daniel Alvaro as he pushes for another contract with the Eels. The 26-year old was Parramatta's best in an otherwise dismal season last year but has been in and out of reserve grade in 2019 and is off contract next year. He has his chance now after being named on the interchange and this week will be the perfect test against a forward pack stacked with representative stars.

The favourite: Back at home and off an improved performance, the Dragons are slight favourites.

My tip: Inexplicably, despite being in poor form the Red V should break through for a much-needed win at home. Dragons by 4.