Pre Match
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7:35pm Sat June 15, 2024
Round 15 - CommBank Stadium, Parramatta / Burramattagal

Round 15: Eels v Roosters preview

Smithless Easts head West to face poor Parramatta

Saturday night will see the Parramatta Eels play host to the Sydney Roosters with the business end of the competition drawing near. The Roosters will be well-positioned coming off a bye, whilst the Eels are making a relatively short turnaround having played on the King's Birthday public holiday. 

The Eels will be feeling down after missing a key opportunity to build some momentum after they went down in a nailbiter to the Bulldogs on Monday. The 22-18 loss all but disperses any sense of confidence that Parramatta managed to garner the week earlier when they beat the high-flying Sharks, so they face a tough challenge in getting up for this game. 

Maika Sivo returns to his wing position after missing last week with a hamstring injury. Wiremu Greig has missed out on the 17, with Daejarn Asi also dropping from the starting side but maintaining a spot on the bench. Ryan Matterson has been named in the reserves and could be a late inclusion to the 17.

Coming off a bye last week, the Roosters would have had plenty of time to reflect on what went wrong their last time out back in round thirteen. Despite a string of strong performances, Easts were caught out by a Cowboys ambush at Allianz, failing to convert a half-time lead into competition points. Going down by two 18-16 courtesy of a 73rd minute Drinkwater penalty goal, the 6th placed Roosters will need to bounce back in order to maintain their spot in the eight come the end of the round. 

The Roosters will benefit from the return of their origin contingent, meaning they will be fielding a much stronger side than two weeks ago. Sitili Tupouniua, Blake Steep, Siua Wong, and Michael Jennings are the players making space in the 17. But the big news is the absence of Brandon Smith, who has received a breach notice for missing a team meeting and whose number nine jersey has been taken by the returning Connor Watson for this Saturday. 

The Sydney Roosters have won eight of their last ten games against the Eels. 

Last meeting: Round 25 2023 - Eels 12 Roosters 34

Who to watch: Brendan Hands looks to have the number nine role locked up at Parramatta after getting the nod over Joey Lussick a few weeks back. With Lussick still in the reserves, this week will mark Hands' third game as starting hooker in the NRL 17 this year, all of them consecutive. Hands spent a few years playing reserve grade with Penrith before joining their Western Sydney rival the Eels in 2022 and making his first grade debut in 2023. With so much at stake for the Eels in every game, Hands will need to keep improving each week in order to fend off teammate Lussick.

Connor Watson is the opposing hooker for this Saturday, and he is standing in the shoes of Brandon Smith for the Roosters. Smith has been stood down internally for this weekend, giving Watson the perfect opportunity to prove his worth following a period on the sideline with a throat injury. The 28 year old utility has plenty of experience, and with Smith's future at the Roosters seriously in doubt, Watson would like to prove he's the man for the number nine jersey week in week out.

Favourite: The Sydney Roosters are the comfortable favourites following the Eels' unconvincing performance last time out.

My tip: The Roosters have shown themselves to be a very good footy side for the most part, and despite their hiccup against the Cowboys I think they will get back on track this Saturday. Roosters by 14.