2 days ago
Eels v Sharks preview
Zero wins - that's what one team will leave Saturday night with if they fail to take victory at ANZ Stadium.
Both sides were in most top 8 predictions with Parramatta especially tipped to be top 4 contenders before round 1. Of course, their top 4 ambitions aren't wiped off the park, their minor premiership ambitions aren't wiped out either (look at Penrith 03) but a win here will definitely be preferred.
Parramatta welcomed back Jarryd Hayne with open arms by the club and many fans but his return has been far from the shiny new plane rather a third-hand machine that has been nothing but clunky, Hayne's potential move to Fullback this week could be the spark that the Eels need because they've only played 26 minutes of good football in the opening two rounds. The Eels looked the goods in the opening half hour against the Panthers racing out to 14-0 before conceding 24 unanswered points against the Panthers.
The Eels then backed up their awful second half at Brookvale last weekend with conceding another unanswered 54 points against Manly on Sunday. The basics was where it was going wrong for the Eels on the weekend with drop ball, defensive misreads and conceding penalties plus the Eels will be hoping that Mitch Moses can stay on the field for the full 80 this week after having been sin binned in both matches so far. Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has kept his faith in his side despite two losses only making forced changes with Brad Takairangi out injured for potentially 8 weeks with a fractured eye socket. The Eels coach has added Daniel Alvaro to the starting line up with Beau Scott dropping to the bench, Kenny Edwards comes onto the bench and Peni Terepo comes into the reserves.
Another side to give up a 14-0 lead so far is the Cronulla Sharks who have been in their games but have still looked a step down from their opponents in both clashes. The Sharks are a side who can deliver on their day but the addition of new players hasn't been a seamless transition and the addition of Matt Moylan has taken some time to get flowing.
The Sharks come into the game sitting with the two better losses (if there's such a thing), having only been beaten by 6 points and 4 points respectively in two games. Cronulla have shown the potential to be in their games but the slowness at times is a concern with an aging pack. The Sharks have only two changes with Jesse Ramien coming into the centres replacing Aaron Gray whilst Luke Lewis coming into the 21-man squad as a chance of a return. Josh Dugan has been named in the 1 jersey after playing there last week after being in the 3 jersey last week.
Last meeting: Round 4 2017 - Eels 6 Sharks 20
Who to watch: Jarryd Hayne is reportedly expected to move back into the fullback position and this could be the change that the Eels need. Hayne's exploits in his first stint at the Eels in the fullback position are well known and if the 30 year old can replicate his old form, the Eels will look a dangerous team. Fullback has been Jarryd Hayne's best position with Hayne scoring 290 points at fullback. Of course this is all hypothetical if Jarryd Hayne plays at fullback but if it doesn't happen then all eyes will be on Mitch Moses who hasn't stood up in the first two rounds and instead has cost his team twice having been sin binned twice in just two rounds. Mitch Moses can spark a side but he needs to show it this week if questions about his position aren't going to be asked.
Eyes for the Sharks will be on Matt Moylan who's entry into the Sharks side has been average at best with glimpses of highlights but nothing of substance. The high profile recruit has given fans of other sides a few laughs with drop balls and mistakes but Moylan a player touted with a massive reputation needs to stand up. At this stage the Panthers look to have won from the Maloney-Moylan swap but Moylan has the x factor that can change a game which we have seen in his days at the foot of the mountains can spark a side but potentially Moylan with the right amount of ball could become dangerous rather than just giving him the ball and hoping for something to happen.
The favourite: There is no favourites in a game like this, the two sides are equal in the preview markets and it's easy to understand why.
My tip: The Parramatta Eels might have conceded 78 unanswered in two weeks but their performance in the first half against the Panthers was a red-hot effort and if they can regroup from last week's defeat then they are a big chance against a Cronulla side who has been patchy as best. Eels by 10.
1. Bevan French 2. Josh Hoffman 3. Michael Jennings 4. Jarryd Hayne 5. Kirisome Auva'a 6. Corey Norman 7. Mitchell Moses 17. Kane Evans 9. Cameron King 10. Tim Mannah 11. Manu Ma'u 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Nathan Brown 14. Beau Scott 8. Daniel Alvaro 15. Kenny Edwards 18. Will Smith
1. Josh Dugan 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Valentine Holmes 22. Trent Hodkinson 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Matt Prior 11. Jayson Bukuya 12. Wade Graham 13. Paul Gallen 14. Kurt Capewell 15. James Segeyaro 16. Ava Seumanufagai 17. Joseph Paulo
Referees: Ben Cummins, Peter Gough; Sideline Officials: Brett Suttor, Kasey Badger; Video Referees: Jared Maxwell, Ben Galea;