Wests Tigers v Eels Preview

Wests Tigers v Eels
SFS
Friday 7.35pm

Last weekend these two teams played in a furnace as warm weather hit Sydney on Sunday – but it’s likely the heat this Friday night will be generated mostly from sizzling attack.

Two out-and-out entertainment machines come together at the SFS, both with a 1-1 record, but Parramatta come in off a win while the Wests Tigers come in off a loss.

Coincidentally, both teams have beaten Manly with impressive late comebacks.

The home-side Tigers started well against the Roosters last week but were then blown off the park. Only some late tries added respectability to the score line of 44-32.

The loss, after an opening round win over Manly, has the joint venture club currently running 11th on the NRL ladder.

They will be without the services of young halfback Robert Lui for a few weeks at least due to injury, which sees Tim Moltzen move from fullback to halfback and Mitch Brown come in as custodian.

Beau Ryan is back from suspension on the wing, pushing Daniel Fitzhenry to the bench, while Bryce Gibbs also returns at prop seeing Junior Moors revert back to the reserves list.

Todd Payten joins the team in the second row, pushing Mark Flanagan out of the starting side and Jason Schirnack out of the squad all together.

Parramatta stormed back from 20-0 against the Sea Eagles last weekend to win 24-20 under controversial circumstances, but the points have been registered and they now sit in ninth on the ladder.

They will be without the services of winger Luke Burt, who injured his knee, with the more than capable Krisnan Inu slotting in as his replacement.

Fuifui Moimoi has been named to start in his 100th game, which sees Justin Poore start from the bench.

Watch out Wests Tigers:
Fuifui Moimoi is ready to rip and tear in his centenary match in the NRL – and this spells danger for the Wests Tigers’ defenders.

The burly prop with great explosive pace over short distances has earned himself a starting spot thanks to a mammoth effort against the Sea Eagles. He ran for 139 metres, had five tackle-breaks, a line-break and 13 tackles in 49 minutes of rip-snorting footy.

With talk his family might fly out for the occasion, Moimoi will be a man on a mission come Friday night.

Watch out Eels:
If the Parramatta boys are planning complacency around the halves after young Robert Lui was ruled out, they should think again. Tim Moltzen has already proven himself a very capable playmaker and will ensure the Tigers’ attacking machine rolls on.

Moltzen leads the Wests Tigers with three line-breaks and three try assists and he has also notched up a line-break assist from fullback.

This week he gets a chance to be even closer to the action, so the Eels need to be aware of his ability to not just set up others, but to take the defence on in his own right.

Where it will be won:
Riding the momentum. At this early stage of the season both the Wests Tigers and the Eels have shown they have some great football in their kitbags but they also have plenty of rust. In their opening two matches they have had patches of brilliance and patches of rubbish – and this is likely to continue in this match, so the trick is to ride the ups and take advantage so the downs can be tolerated.

Players will tell you that momentum shifts can be felt during a match and it’s hard to combat a team on a roll. When your side gets the flow going, you do not want to be the one who lets the opposition off the hook with a poor error.

In this contest, when the momentum heads to one side, the opposition needs to minimise the damage by trying to lift for one big scramble play or one big tackle that forces an error. We have all seen how players rush to the man who makes this type of play – they know how important they are.

Who wants it more? That’s what this game will come down to.  

The History:
Played 20; Wests Tigers 5, Eels 14, drawn 1. The Eels have it all over the Wests Tigers, winning seven of the past eight matches between the clubs – and they also won the only match at the SFS.
 
Conclusion:
With both teams just as likely to put in a great performance or an average one, at this stage of the year this game becomes a toss-of-the-coin job.

Both teams have match turners, like Jarryd Hayne and Lote Tuqiri, and both teams are proven try scorers.
 
The Eels do have the momentum from winning last week and their defence is usually a little stronger than the Wests Tigers’. Add to this their impressive record in the head-to-head battle and you can probably lean their way.

Match officials: Referees – Tony Archer & Matt Cecchin; Sideline Officials – Paul Holland & Adam Devcich; Video Ref – Steve Clark.

Televised: Channel Nine – Live 7.30pm (NSW), delayed 9.30 (Qld); Fox Sports – Delayed 11.30pm.