The Late Mail: Knights v Eels
9 mins ago | LeagueUnlimited Media
Momentum is a hell of a drug
A place in the preliminary final awaits for the victor on Friday evening as the Parramatta Eels and the Canberra Raiders face off at Commbank Stadium.
Gaining a second chance in the play-offs with a top four finish during the regular season, the Parramatta Eels will be desperate to break a horror semi final record in recent times.
Unable to go the distance with reigning premiers Penrith during last Friday's 27-8 loss at the foot of the mountains, the Eels will be banking on Mitchell Moses recovering in time after sustaining a concussion last week.
Jakob Arthur, the much-maligned son of Parramatta coach, Brad, has been included on the bench as cover for Moses with Bryce Cartwright, Nathan Brown and former Canberra outside-back Bailey Simonsson likely to come into the side should the one-time NSW representative miss the match.
Losing their past four semi finals during Arthur's tenure, including three in succession against Melbourne (0-32), South Sydney (24-38) and Penrith (6-8), the Eels will be hoping the home ground advantage prove fortuitous in their third finals match at Commbank Stadium.
Riding a wave of momentum during the final third of the season with eight wins from nine matches, the Canberra Raiders will be aiming to keep the good times rolling to set up the unlikeliest preliminary final meeting seen for some time.
More than making up the numbers by knocking Melbourne out of the premiership with a 28-20 victory at AAMI Park last Saturday, coach Ricky Stuart has been forced to change his forward pack with Ryan Sutton replacing Adam Elliott and Corey Harawira-Naera coming into the lock-forward role.
Losing four of their past six matches against the Eels, including a 28-20 defeat during Indigenous Round, the Raiders have won both of their semi final appearances under Stuart's watch against Penrith (22-12) and Sydney (22-18).
Saturday evening will be only the third time the Raiders have played a match at Commbank Stadium; the Green Machine hold a 1-1 record at the venue with their most-recent appearance being a golden point loss to the Eels in 2020.
Last meeting: Round 12 2022 - Raiders 20 Eels 28
Who to watch: Enjoying a career best campaign with more try-assists than his three previous seasons combined, playmaker Dylan Brown will need to deliver if the Eels hope to make a preliminary final for the first time in 13 years. Facing the prospect of lining up without his long-term halves partner in a must-win encounter, the 22-year-old New Zealand international underwhelmed in last week's loss to the Panthers with his second lowest running total all season. Crossing 11 tries of his own to go with ten forced drop outs, a strong showing from Brown could be the difference at the end of 80 minutes.
Producing a ‘Falcon of God' to get the Raiders over the line last week, Sebastian Kris will be determined to make his mark felt once again on Friday evening. Making a strong case to be the side's long-term answer at left centre following Jarrod Croker's horror run with injury, the 23-year-old Tuggeranong Valley Dragons junior has crossed for 14 tries in 19 appearance in 2022. Bagging a brace against the Eels earlier in the season, Kris shapes as a pivotal player in the side's bid to be within striking distance of a shot at October redemption.
The favourite: Having won eight of their 11 matches at Commbank Stadium this season, the Eels are favoured to progress through to their first preliminary final since the days of Hindmarsh, Burt and Cayless.
My tip: The Eels last Grand Final appearance occurred off the back of eight wins from nine matches leading into a semi final in 2009. The Raiders head into Friday's do-or-die contest with an identical record. Between a wave of momentum and doubts over Moses' availability, it's hard to see anything other than a win for the Green Machine. Raiders by 13.
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 17. Marata Niukore 13. Ryan Matterson 14. Makahesi Makatoa 15. Jakob Arthur 16. Oregon Kaufusi 19. Bailey Simonsson
1. Xavier Savage 2. Nick Cotric 3. Matthew Timoko 4. Sebastian Kris 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Josh Papali'i 9. Zac Woolford 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 16. Corey Horsburgh 13. Corey Harawira-Naera 14. Tom Starling 15. Emre Guler 17. Ryan Sutton 18. Albert Hopoate
Referees: Ashley Klein; Sideline Officials: Dave Munro, Phil Henderson; Video Referees: Gerard Sutton;