Eels v Cowboys preview

Embed from Getty Images
Parramatta Eels v North Queensland Cowboys Friday 8:00pm at CommBank Stadium, Parramatta / Burramattagal

This Friday the Parramatta Eels play host to the North QLD Cowboys, both of which are missing several players, many due to the upcoming State of Origin Game I. 

The Eels are fresh off a red-hot win against the Rabbitohs, where they beat them by a convincing 20-point margin. This marks the 5th win for Parramatta this season, with them having lost all other matches by ten or less points. 

On the other side of this match, the Cowboys are coming off one of their worst games to date, where they were decimated by the Wests Tigers in a 66-18 game. Unlike last year, the Cowboys have really struggled this season, with a mix of poor attack and defence time and time again, however despite this they have still managed to string together 5 wins so far. 

With Junior Paulo joining the NSW Blues camp, new Parramatta signing Joe Ofahengaue will slot into the starting side in his place. Both Ryan Matterson and Andrew Davey are out of the game due to respective calf and head knock injuries, with Matt Doorey returning to the side alongside Luca Moretti making his NRL debut. 

Val Holmes, Murray Taulagi, Reuben Cotter and Tom Dearden are all on QLD Maroons honours this round and will be missing out on this important bounce-back clash for the Cowboys. NRL debutants Zac Laybutt and Robert Derby will respectively be playing in place of Holmes and Taulagi, with Ben Hampton slotting in as five-eighth and Jake Granville as lock. Griffin Neame and Jamayne Taunoa-Brown also rejoin the Cowboys bench after suffering injuries. 

The Eels and Cowboys sit right next to each other on the ladder, in positions 13th and 14th correspondingly. However, the quality and confidence that these two teams have in comparison is worlds apart. 

Last meeting: Finals Week 3 2022 - Cowboys 20 Eels 24

Who to watch: Maiko Sivo is a force to be reckoned with, leading the NRL in tries scored, he has already made the total 14, including four doubles and one hat trick. A definite fan favourite, it'll be interesting to see just how many tries he might score against North QLD. 

Kyle Feldt is one of the Cowboys most senior and experienced players, however he so far, the teams' top try scorer, totalling 7 so far this season. With a depleted Cowboys side, many of whom are lacking experience, he will be an asset to the side come Friday night. 

Favourite: Eels are majorly favoured to add another win to their count at home against the Cowboys. 

My tip: The Cowboys are struggling in both attack and defence, currently being the worst defensive side in the competition. They are lacking confidence and will be missing several of their key players, I just don't think they have it in them to beat a confident Parramatta side. Eels by 20.

1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Viliami Penisini 4. Bailey Simonsson 5. Sean Russell 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Wiremu Greig 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Joe Ofahengaue 11. Bryce Cartwright 12. Matt Doorey 13. J'maine Hopgood 14. Ofahiki Ogden 15. Brendan Hands 16. Luca Moretti 17. Makahesi Makatoa 18. Daejarn Asi

1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Zac Laybutt 4. Peta Hiku 5. Robert Derby 6. Ben Hampton 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jordan McLean 9. Reece Robson 10. Coen Hess 14. Jack Gosiewski 12. Heilum Luki 13. Jake Granville 11. Luciano Leilua 15. Kulikefu Finefeuiaki 16. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 17. Griffin Neame 19. Brendan Elliot

Referees: Liam Kennedy; Sideline Officials: Belinda Sharpe, Wyatt Raymond; Video Referees: Ashley Klein;

Follow all the action LIVE in our Match Centre