Eels v Warriors preview
Parramatta Eels v Warriors
The Eels and Warriors are walking proof that form in the NRL is fickle.
Just a couple or rounds back the Warriors were in a slump which had them drifting towards the foot of the ladder, and halfback Shaun Johnson was being targeted for criticism.
Fast forward to present day and Andrew McFadden's men are back in the top eight, with Johnson being praised for his performances, after leading the Warriors to a dramatic last-minute win over in Round 9.
The Eels on the other hand haven't been able to build off big victories over Manly and South Sydney in the opening rounds, they head into Saturday's clash at Pirtek Stadium with just three wins for the season.
Coach Brad Arthur has clearly had enough, dropping Chris Sandow and Joseph Paulo and calling up Luke Kelly and Tepai Moeroa in their place.
The Warriors lose centre Konrad Hurrell to suspension, with Dominique Peyroux replacing him.
Versatile forward Sione Lousi comes on to the bench for his first Telstra Premiership appearance of 2015, while wing Jonathan Wright will play his 100th game, lining up against the side he debuted for back in 2009.
Watch out Eels: With a little help from his mates Johnson returned to his match-winning best last week, taking control in the final 10 minutes to produce some incredible plays. The Kiwi international got his hands on the ball 54 times, running for 63 metres with two line breaks, as well as setting up a try and scoring the game-sealing one himself.
The Warriors finally started to improve in their troublesome areas last week, and victory followed as a result. With 11 errors, 22 missed tackles and a 79% completion rate it was the tidiest the Warriors have played in over a month. If they can continue to reduce their mistakes they will be hard to beat again.
Watch out Warriors: Eels coach Arthur swung the axe mid-week, banishing two of the more high profile players from his side in Sandow and Paulo, following back-to-back defeats. As a result there will be several others watching their backs this weekend, which will surely see an improved effort.
The New Zealand side field a brand new right-edge combination this weekend with Peyroux becoming the fourth player to line up at right centre this season. It's hardly the ideal occasion to blood a new partnership, given that they will mark up on the deadly duo of Brad Takairangi and Semi Radradra, who between them have six tries and 21 tackle breaks in 2015.
Key Match-Up: Tim Mannah v Ben Matulino. Much of Mannah's job this week will revolve around containing his opposite number, who arrives at Pirtek Stadium in bruising form. Matulino has run for 100 metres or more in every game this season and averages over 16 carries in the middle of the park. Mannah averages 28 tackles and this year sits among Parramatta's most-consistent performers. How he aims up on Matulino and co will be crucial.
The History: Played 34; Eels 19, Warriors 15. Parramatta and the Warriors have a habit of big wins over each other in head-to-head clashes, with the Kiwi side's 13-point win earlier this year the smallest winning margin in their last four meetings. The visitors hold a slight advantage in the recent history, having won three of the last five.
What Are The Odds: Sportsbet punters believe the Warriors are the sure thing of the weekend with the money running 10:1 as far as head-to-head is concerned. Needless to say, all of the money is on the Warriors at the line as well as 13+. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au
Match Officials: Referee: Grant Atkins. Assistant Referee: Gavin Reynolds. Touch Judges: Russell Turner and Kasey Badger. Video Referees: Steve Chiddy and Daniel Irvine.
Televised: Fox Sports - Live from 3.00pm. Sky Sport – Live from 5.00pm NZT.
The Way We See It: Only two points separate these sides on the table, but a look at their recent performances suggest the Warriors are heading in a better direction. The New Zealand team hinted at a mid-season revival last week and their key players are starting to find form. The Eels on the other hand have just one win from their last five. Warriors to win by eight.