Match Preview: The 100th game

Tonight will be the 100th premiership clash between the Parramatta Eels and Penrith Panthers. The two sides went head-to-head earlier this year with the Eels prevailing 16-10, dealing Penrith their only loss of the season to date.

This game will have big ramifications for both the minor premiership and make up of the top four.

A Penrith win will see them wrap up the minor premiership for the third time in their history and also mean the Eels will have to win at least one of their remaining two games to secure a top four berth.

An Eels win will ensure a top four position and even possibly secure top three while simultaneously putting Melbourne under pressure in second place. This result, combined with a Storm win will see the minor premiership go down to the final two weeks of the season as the gap will sit at just three points from first to third.

Parramatta come into this match with a bit of an injury crisis. Five-eighth Dylan Brown is out until at least the second week of the finals after he suffered a syndesmosis injury two weeks ago, while hooker Reed Mahoney has suffered an AC joint sprain but should return in the next week or two. Middle forward Marata Niukore is also out until the finals due to a rib injury.

These injuries have forced a reshuffle with Jai Field starting in the six for the second consecutive week, Ray Stone shifting to hooker and Andrew Davey moving onto the bench in jersey 15 while Will Smith makes his first appearance in the 17 for more than 12 months.

Penrith is virtually unchanged from the side that had a bit of a scare against the Broncos last week.

Since 1998, the two sides have clashed 41 times with the Eels leading the ledger 21-20.

The Battle of the West has long been a fairly even contest with wins and losses often shared equally. The longest one-sided streak belongs to the Eels with the champion Blue and Gold sides from 1977-1982 not losing a single one of their 15 matches, enjoying 14 wins and one draw.

This season, Penrith are the team to beat and have their sights set firmly on the minor premiership. Their 12 match winning streak is a club record and sets them up nicely for the finals. That being said, they haven't faced a top four side since they defeated Melbourne 21-14 in round six.

The Panthers have been looking for some extra motivation this week, calling out Reagan Campbell-Gillard for comments he made nine months ago, just before the start of the season. RCG has been the form prop of the competition this year and will be out, yet again, to show why he deserves an Origin recall.

The last time these two sides met, it was a 15 minute burst of skill and power that saw the Eels run in three quick tries in the second half to seize the lead and close out the match. 

Penrith were good for much of that match, but for all their field position and hard work, they failed to capitalise on key opportunities and the Eels took their chances. A certain Phil Gould said Penrith deserved to win the match, however, if a 15 minute burst is all it takes for the Eels to win, then Penrith didn't deserve to win it.

On that wet and windy night it was Waqa Blake who stole the show and gave opposing centre Stephen Crichton a lesson.

Parramatta's four Penrith rejects have all been playing well this season, although Waqa could do with some more tackling practice.

In the Eels most recent outing against the Warriors, they appeared to have altered their attacking style, especially early in the match.

They were a lot more direct, utilised short balls around the ruck and the halves both ran the ball early, straightening at the line and opening up their outside men.

Their first try was a direct result of these tactics with Jai Field straightening before offloading to Lane who picked the right pass to send Maika Sivo over in the corner.

It's the type of play that asks plenty of questions of the defence and isolates smaller edge defenders.

Mitchell Moses also seemed to rediscover his short kicking game. A grubber early on allowed Blake Ferguson to cross for his first try of the year, while a well weighted cross-field bomb fell perfectly for Waqa Blake.

Parramatta have some of the best aerial attackers in the game and could be well served in attacking Josh Mansour through the air tonight.

The greatest issue the Eels have faced this season has been complacency. In all the matches they've lost, apart from the Roosters, they were favourites. And on all of those occasions, they went missing from kick off.

Given this match's importance and the fact they're facing Penrith, I expect the Eels to show up with a point to prove tonight.

Eels by four. Moses man of the match.

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Replies

  • You could have kept it to a 100 words.. 

    • All media release are permitted 500 words before being automatically rejeted.

      Super is on this - no probs.

      History shows us nthat EVERY must win match the Eels face they simply have not turned up on the night.

      Would be nice to see that change tonight.

      There are som many other implications to this game it is not funny.

      Eels win will shake the Riff who have not faced a top 4 side since Noah ran the Ark into the Blue Mountains.

      Riff win and we are still an outside chance of dropping from the top 4

      Riff win then Eels confidence would also take a big hit.

      Riff win and Rorters will be after us like a bitch on heat.

      The worst of it being if the Riff win we will never be able to shut the Goose, or Brandy up for the next 5 years.

      If for no other reason we need this win to stick it right up the media farts.

      • Lol I Col great write up, I'm tipping a win for the ages for the mighty eels and the beginning a slide in form for panthers it's a shame its not being played in front of a huge crowd 

        • I am hoping for a BIG Sivo double and hear the cry go up around the stadium

          SIVE - SIVO - SIVO !

          I know - low blow but hey this is thre Riff we are talking about here.

    • 5 words   " Parra should smash Panthers tonight " .

  • Do we want to play Penrith or Storm in the first final. I would prefer Penrith. If we lose by a little and then beat the Broncos we should be playing Penrith in the first final. If we beat Penrith then it may make things more difficult. Still hope we win.

    • No easy street at this time of year mate.

      At least we get 2 bites at the cheery this year.

    • If we finish 3rd or 4th and win great if we lose we would play a winning team week two if we finish 5th or 6th and  lose were history win we would be playing a losing team week two. 

      • That's a very interesting observation Slugg. This may be the first time that coming 5th is not a disadvantage due to the gap between the top teams

         

          • Simply delays the inevitable of playing Storm or the Riff - could even mean we face the Rorters.

            Slugg is getting a little Sluggish me thinks.

This reply was deleted.

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