It was already the season from hell for Parramatta before last week's 18-16 road loss to Newcastle.
The last-placed Eels jumped out of the gate and looked set to post a cricket score on the Knights, only to stop playing and crashing to their 14th loss in 17 games.
Parra can't seem to play from in front or behind and it's anyone's guess how they will perform when they kick off round 19 against the Bulldogs on Thursday night.
The Doggies are also languishing near the bottom of the ladder and will boost their chances of avoiding the wooden spoon if they can win this one. Coming off last week's loss to Souths, Canterbury got the better of the Eels in round 10, winning 20-12.
Key match-up: Josh Jackson was an Origin player and wants to get back there, while Nathan Brown has never played Origin and is dying for a chance. But they might be waiting a while given the Blues' embarrassment of back row riches and the fact they are coming off a series win. Jackson and Brown don't play the same game but neither takes a backward step and their respective performances could have a big influence on the result.
For the Eels to win: After blowing a strong start last week, Parra need their playmakers to take charge when things get tight and keep the team on an even keel. They had 10 points in 10 minutes and just six over the final 70 minutes against the Knights and have to find some consistency in their attack.
For the Bulldogs to win: With his team light on experience for the rest of the season, first-year Dogs coach Dean Pay has to rely largely on youthful enthusiasm over the final seven rounds. If they keep their errors down and limit penalties, the Doggies should take care of a team playing with zero confidence.
Eels Stat Attack: Parramatta's recent form may be poor but their recent record against Canterbury is excellent, winning four of their past five games. The Bulldogs also have a poor record in Thursday night contests this year, losing all three matches.
Bulldogs Stat Attack: Rhyse Martin produced a wow of a game a fortnight ago with 24 points including a hat-trick and six goals and his goal-kicking has been a standout since taking over from Moses Mbye after his exit to the Tigers. Martin has kicked 13 goals from 14 attempts at a strike rate of 93% – better than any other regular goal-kicker in the league this season.
And another thing: Between them, Parramatta and the Bulldogs basically owned the early to mid 80s, racking up a collective eight grand final appearances. The Dogs broke the Eels' run of three straight premierships with a 6-4 win in the '84 grand final before Parra sent Mick Cronin and Ray Price into retirement in '86 with a 4-2 defeat of the Dogs in the grand final.
Fullback for Eels is number 1 Clinton GuthersonFullback for Bulldogs is number 1 Will Hopoate
Winger for Eels is number 2 Bevan FrenchWinger for Bulldogs is number 2 Brett Morris
Centre for Eels is number 3 Michael JenningsCentre for Bulldogs is number 3 Josh Morris
Centre for Eels is number 4 Jarryd HayneCentre for Bulldogs is number 4 Kerrod Holland
Winger for Eels is number 5 George JenningsWinger for Bulldogs is number 5 Reimis Smith
Five-Eighth for Eels is number 6 Corey NormanFive-Eighth for Bulldogs is number 6 Lachlan Lewis
Halfback for Eels is number 7 Mitchell MosesHalfback for Bulldogs is number 7 Jeremy Marshall-King
Prop for Eels is number 8 Daniel AlvaroProp for Bulldogs is number 8 Aiden Tolman
Hooker for Eels is number 9 Kaysa PritchardHooker for Bulldogs is number 9 Michael Lichaa
Prop for Eels is number 10 Siosaia VaveProp for Bulldogs is number 10 David Klemmer
2nd Row for Eels is number 11 Marata Niukore2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 11 Josh Jackson
2nd Row for Eels is number 14 Tepai Moeroa2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 12 Rhyse Martin
Lock for Eels is number 13 Nathan BrownLock for Bulldogs is number 13 Adam Elliott
Interchange for Eels is number 12 Brad TakairangiInterchange for Bulldogs is number 14 Fa'amanu Brown
Interchange for Eels is number 15 Tim MannahInterchange for Bulldogs is number 15 Clay Priest
Interchange for Eels is number 17 Peni TerepoInterchange for Bulldogs is number 17 Danny Fualalo
Interchange for Eels is number 21 Reed MahoneyInterchange for Bulldogs is number 19 Greg Eastwood
Eels: Kaysa Pritchard replaced Cameron King at hooker in the side named on Tuesday. In a late change Tepai Moeroa moves into the starting side and Brad Takairangi goes back to the bench. Reed Mahoney comes onto the bench and David Gower is out.
Bulldogs: Former Kiwi international Greg Eastwood makes a return to the side and will come off the interchange bench. Ofahiki Ogden is the player omitted to make way for Eastwood.
Head-to-head: Played 143; Bulldogs 76 wins, Eels 62 wins, 5 draws
Previous result: Bulldogs won 20-12 at ANZ Stadium in round 10
Points per game: Eels 14.8; Bulldogs 16.4
Points conceded per game: Eels 23.1; Bulldogs 21.2
Televised: Live on Nine, Fox League
Petero Civoniceva's prediction: This is a tough one to get a handle on. Jarryd Hayne got back to some of his best form last week and the Eels pushed the Knights all the way. Despite the scoreline, I thought the Bulldogs were brave against Souths and showed enough in patches to suggest they can finish the season strongly for their fans and first-year coach Dean Pay.
Tip: Bulldogs by 6
Match: Eels v Bulldogs
Round 19 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium
- Nine Network
- LIVE PASS
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