The Sharks were a tipster's nightmare last start. For the opening 40 minutes they blew the Dragons off the park, only to produce a number of schoolboy errors after the break to lose their Southern derby.
Parramatta, in a word, were woeful in sauna-like conditions on the northern beaches. Coach Brad Arthur was perplexed at full-time after what was a forgettable display.
Not many predicted either of these sides to be 0-2 to start the season, but one is set to be 0-3 by Saturday night.
The selections: Co-captain Beau Scott returns on the bench, with utility Will Smith dropping out of the 17. Kenny Edwards makes his first start of the season, with Kane Evans relegated to the bench. For Cronulla, young gun Jesse Ramien is given a chance to show his class in the centres, with Aaron Gray missing out.
The key match-up: Nathan Brown v Paul Gallen. The Parramatta enforcer will be keen to atone for last Sunday at Lottoland, and he couldn't face a more daunting assignment than the evergreen Gallen. Both men are fearless, their duel is worth the price of admission alone.
For the Eels to win: Attitude. Whatever happened versus the Sea Eagles cannot be replicated. Parramatta looked flat and at times disinterested. Arthur and the club's long-suffering fans won't tolerate a similar performance.
For the Sharks to win: Maintain the rage for 80 minutes. They only completed five sets in the second half last week, with their display after oranges not up to NRL standard.
Eels Stat Attack: Alongside the Titans, the Eels have missed a competition-high whopping 91 tackles in two games. It is safe to assume Arthur would have produced the tackling bags at training this week.
Sharks Stat Attack: Ricky Leutele is an accomplished defender, and has already nabbed two intercepts in 2018. Chad Townsend also enjoys a 100 per cent try conversion record with the boot.
And another thing: Parramatta will have to defy history to lift the Telstra Premiership trophy on September 30. No team has ever conceded 50 points in a game and gone on to win a title.
Prediction: Sharks by 10
Eels: 1 Bevan French, 2 Josh Hoffman, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Jarryd Hayne, 5 Kirisome Auva'a, 6 Corey Norman, 7 Mitchell Moses, 17 Kane Evans, 9 Cameron King, 10 Tim Mannah (c), 11 Manu Ma'u, 12 Tepai Moeroa, 13 Nathan Brown
Interchange: 8 Daniel Alvaro, 14 Beau Scott, 15 Kenny Edwards, 18 Will Smith
Kane Evans will start the match, the Daniel Alvaro dopping back to the bench. Coach Brad Arthur has resisted the urge for mass changes after the horror loss to Manly. Beau Scott returns on the bench in place of Will Smith who drops to the reserves while Daniel Alvaro is back in the run-on side in place of Kane Evans (bench). Kenny Edwards returns from an ankle injury via the interchange in place of Brad Takairangi, who copped a stray elbow to the face last week. David Gower and Kaysa Pritchard were dropped off the bench 24 hours prior to kick-off, with Suaia Matagi and Peni Terepo omitted an hour before the game started.
Match: Eels v Sharks
Round 3 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium
- LIVE PASS
Sharks: 1 Josh Dugan, 2 Sosaia Feki, 3 Jesse Ramien, 4 Ricky Leutele, 5 Valentine Holmes, 22 Trent Hodkinson, 7 Chad Townsend, 8 Andrew Fifita, 9 Jayden Brailey, 10 Matt Prior, 11 Jayson Bukuya, 12 Wade Graham (c), 13 Paul Gallen (c)
Interchange: 14 Kurt Capewell, 15 James Segeyaro, 16 Avagalu Seumanufagai, 17 Joseph Paulo
Kurt Dillon and Edrick Lee have been dropped off the bench an hour from kick-off. Matt Moylan has been ruled out of the Sharks side with a hamstring injury. Trent Hodkinson (No.22) has been brought into the starting side and is in line to make his Sharks debut. Young gun Jesse Ramien has been called up in place of centre Aaron Gray in the Sharks' only change. Luke Lewis features in the reserves list as he looks to make a comeback from a foot injury. Jack Williams and Luke Lewis were dropped from the bench 24 hours prior to kick-off.
Parramatta Eels v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, Saturday 7.35pm AEDT at ANZ Stadium
Head-to-head: 83 games, Sharks 44 wins, Eels 39 wins
Points per game: Eels 7; Sharks 15
Points conceded per game: Eels 39; Sharks 20
Televised: Live on Fox League