Wests Tigers v Eels preview

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Wests Tigers v Parramatta Eels Saturday 7:35pm at Bankwest Stadium

The Parramatta Eels take on rivals, the Wests Tigers as they aim to secure a spot in the top four.

A win for the fourth placed Parramatta Eels will secure the club a spot in the top four for the second time over the past four seasons.

Awaiting them is the out of form Wests Tigers, who host them at Bankwest Stadium. Parramatta will hardly feel like the away team for this fixture and will expect to take the two points from the Tigers just as they did at this venue in round 11 earlier this year.

The Eels have won three of their last six matches, failing to win back to back games in the process. They are coming off a convincing 14-point win over the Brisbane Broncos on Friday night.

Brad Arthur's men will come into this fixture against the struggling Tigers with the upmost confidence and it'll be a game in which the Eels can get their attack firing before finals. The Eels have only managed to score over 20 points in two of their last eight fixtures, in fact, it's been a weakness of the side for majority of the season. Parramatta have only scored more than 20 points on seven occasions this season and their points scored total of 364 is the lowest out of all the teams in the top eight.

They have relied on their defence to get them through the tough games this season but they'll get a chance to pile on some points on Saturday night if they can get their attack firing.

The Eels have named the same 17 players to play this weekend, with the only changes to the team sheet involve Junior Paulo and Shaun Lane moving back into the starting 13 whilst Kane Evans and Andrew Davey return to the bench.

The Wests Tigers suffered a heavy 28-point defeat to the Melbourne Storm on Saturday. The Tigers conceded a massive 50 points, which extends their streak of conceding 26 points or more to nine games. The stats that are very representative of the Tigers season are their points for and against totals. The Tigers have scored 416 points, the fifth highest tally in the competition, however, they have also conceded a whopping 477 points, the third most in the competition to date.

Defence has been the biggest weakness in the Tigers game this year and it is something that Michael Maguire is trying to improve, highlighted by dropping Joseph Leilua for the match this weekend. Leilua made a few bad reads in defence on the weekend which led to tries and has a reputation of being a lazy defender, so we'll see if his exclusion does have any effect on how the Tigers defend on Saturday night.

Leilua is replaced by Tommy Talau in the centres whilst Luke Brooks returns from suspension in place of Josh Reynolds. Alex Twal returns at lock pushing Matt Eisenhuth to the bench, Thomas Mikaele and Luke Garner start at prop and second row respectively replacing both Josh Aloiai and Sam McIntyre who miss out with injuries. Elijah Taylor, Shawn Blore and Michael Chee Kam join the bench with Russell Packer and Jacob Liddle dropping out of the 17.

Last meeting: Round 11 2020 - Eels 26 Wests Tigers 16

Who to watch: The battle of the halves will light up the television screen on Saturday night. Points are expected to flow following the recent form of the Tigers past three matches which have seen 50 points or more scored. Former Tiger, Mitchell Moses will line up at halfback for the Eels and albeit having a relatively quiet year in comparison to his stellar season in 2019, he will have to step up as Dylan Brown misses another week with injury. The 26-year-old half has provided his side with six try assists this season whilst forcing a whopping 20 drop outs. Moses provided two try assists in their win against the Broncos and surpassed 100 run metres for the third time this season.

In his final game in an orange, black and white jersey, Benji Marshall will be motivated to put in a stellar performance against the Eels. It'll be the former New Zealand internationals 257th game for the Wests Tigers and he'll be sure to add to his 17 try assists that he's recorded this season. This includes a whopping total of 10 try assists in his last six outings. Providing tries seems to be no issue for Marshall who in 2012 record an incredible 35 try assists, but it has been the other side of the game that has lacked throughout his career. Marshall has struggled defensively this season and when paired next to Joseph Leilua it's not a pretty sight for Tigers fans. Despite his defensive deficiencies, Benji Marshall deserves one last all-star performance in the orange, black and white.

The favourite: Parramatta head into this fixture as the favourites and will be expecting to win as they did earlier in the season. The last four matches involving these sides have been won by Parramatta, including their massive 45-point victory at Bankwest Stadium last year.

My tip: Parramatta have more to play for out of the two sides with a top four spot beckoning. On paper the Eels should have this comfortably, but it's the unpredictability of the Tigers that could make this an interesting match. Despite it being Benji Marshall's last game for the Tigers I expect the Eels to secure their top four spot. Eels by 14.

1. Adam Doueihi 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Tommy Talau 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Asu Kepaoa 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Zane Musgrove 9. Harry Grant 10. Thomas Mikaele 11. Luke Garner 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Alex Twal 14. Matt Eisenhuth 15. Elijah Taylor 16. Shawn Blore 17. Michael Chee-Kam

1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 19. Brad Takairangi 4. Waqa Blake 5. Blake Ferguson 14. Will Smith 7. Mitchell Moses 16. Kane Evans 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 15. Andrew Davey 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Nathan Brown 11. Shaun Lane 17. Oregon Kaufusi 20. George Jennings 21. Daniel Alvaro

Referees: Ben Cummins; Sideline Officials: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski, Belinda Sharpe; Video Referees: Steve Chiddy;

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