The other Friday night footy showdown this week has the Melbourne Storm travelling to Parramatta Stadium to play the low-on-confidence Eels in a tense re-match of last year’s Grand Final.
While Melbourne enjoyed their first AAMI Park win ahead of the Bulldogs last week, the Eels seem to be falling into a mid-season slump after they lost their second match in a row in Round 12. Two weeks ago Parramatta went down to the Sharks and then last week they were kept scoreless while letting the Dragons run away with 30 points. After such a high, winning four straight throughout rounds 6 – 10, the Eels need to really pick up the pace.
This is the first time these two have played each other since the Storm beat the Eels in the Premiership final last year, and after this year’s news of Melbourne’s salary cap breaches, expect Parramatta to come out seeking revenge.
Based on recent form Melbourne has been installed as the $1.70 favourites with Ladbrokes.com.au while the home team will start as the underdogs currently paying $2.17.
Many fans will want to get behind the Eels to atone for last year’s Grand Final loss and get back on track, but with the depth of the Storm squad further improved this week with the return of Origin stars Slater and Inglis, it is hard to see Parramatta getting the opportunity here.
Melbourne are further boosted by the return of their instrumental and inspirational skipper Cameron Smith. And, it is an important milestone for Cooper Cronk, who will be keen to celebrate his 150th first grade game with a win.
The Eels also have a number of their central players returning to help their cause this week including Nathan Hindmarsh, Eric Grothe and Joel Reddy, but if Hayne and Tahu don’t start to show some form and spark some plays then it won’t be enough, especially if Hindmarsh is a late withdrawal again.
This is a big game for both teams, but more so for Parramatta who need to win here to get back into the top eight.
Expect a noisy and openly hostile legion of blue and gold fans booing all the way through the Storm’s victory.
Current Head-to-Head Odds: Eels $2.17 – Storm $1.70 Ladbrokes.com.au
Round 13 Eels Team:
1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Luke Burt 3. Joel Reddy 4. Timana Tahu 5. Eric Grothe 6. Kris Keating 7. Daniel Mortimer 8. Nathan Cayless 9. Jeff Robson 10. Fuifui Moimoi 11. Nathan Hindmarsh 12. Ben Smith 13. Feleti Mateo
Bench: 14. Matt Keating 15. Tim Mannah 16. Justin Horo 17. Justin Poore
Reserve: 18. Krisnan Inu
Round 13 Storm Team:
1. Billy Slater 2. Matt Duffie 3. Dane Nielsen 4. Greg Inglis 5. Luke MacDougall 6. Brett Finch 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Bryan Norrie 9. Cameron Smith (c) 10. Brett White 11. Adam Blair 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Todd Lowrie
Bench: 14. Ryan Hinchcliffe 15. Kevin Proctor 16. Aiden Tolman 17. Sika Manu
Reserve: 18. Jeff Lima