Eels v Dragons: Late changes for both teams
Parramatta impressed in a comfortable win over Gold Coast last week, while St George Illawarra were disappointing in their defeat against the Warriors.
Both sides have plenty to play for, with the Eels desperately trying to avoid the wooden spoon and the Dragons looking to cement a spot inside the top four with the finals looming.
Key match-up: Gareth Widdop v Mitchell Moses. The Dragons pivot has arguably been his team's best player all year, while Moses produced one of his better 80-minute performances at ANZ Stadium against the Titans last start. Both players are fiercely competitive, and will be keen to outpoint their opposing five-eighth.
For the Eels to win: Nathan Brown has been a standout after successfully making the transition from prop to lock in recent seasons. He played 80 minutes against the Titans, with his bruising runs up the middle a highlight. His duel versus NSW lock Jack de Belin is worth the price the admission alone.
For the Dragons to win: Hooker Cameron McInnes needs to rediscover the form which had him in the frame for NSW Origin selection a few months ago. The Botany Rams junior could run riot when running at fatigued defenders.
Match: Eels v Dragons
Round 22 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium
- Fox League
- Nine Network
- LIVE PASS
Eels Stat Attack: Clint Gutherson has been one of his team's shining lights in what has been a testing campaign to date. He has made the fullback spot his own, scoring four tries. He also has five try assists to his name and 159 tackles.
Dragons Stat Attack: Widdop has been a point-scoring machine, amassing 191 so far this season. His goal-kicking accuracy is equally impressive, with a competition-high 87% in 2018. Fullback Matt Dufty has caught the eye with 15 line breaks.
And another thing: The teams met back in late June, with the Dragons coming from behind to win 20-18 in Wollongong. Eels players were shattered after the round 16 defeat and will look to square the ledger this weekend.
Fullback for Eels is number 1 Corey NormanFullback for Dragons is number 1 Matthew Dufty
Winger for Eels is number 2 Jarryd HayneWinger for Dragons is number 2 Jordan Pereira
Centre for Eels is number 3 Michael JenningsCentre for Dragons is number 3 Euan Aitken
Centre for Eels is number 4 Clinton GuthersonCentre for Dragons is number 4 Timoteo Lafai
Winger for Eels is number 5 George JenningsWinger for Dragons is number 19 Nene Macdonald
Five-Eighth for Eels is number 6 Jaeman SalmonFive-Eighth for Dragons is number 6 Gareth Widdop
Halfback for Eels is number 7 Mitchell MosesHalfback for Dragons is number 7 Ben Hunt
Prop for Eels is number 8 Siosaia VaveProp for Dragons is number 8 James Graham
Hooker for Eels is number 9 Reed MahoneyHooker for Dragons is number 9 Cameron McInnes
Prop for Eels is number 15 Kane EvansProp for Dragons is number 11 Tyson Frizell
2nd Row for Eels is number 11 Marata Niukore2nd Row for Dragons is number 17 Luciano Leilua
2nd Row for Eels is number 12 Tepai Moeroa2nd Row for Dragons is number 12 Tariq Sims
Lock for Eels is number 13 Nathan BrownLock for Dragons is number 13 Jack de Belin
Interchange for Eels is number 14 Will SmithInterchange for Dragons is number 10 Leeson Ah Mau
Interchange for Eels is number 16 Peni TerepoInterchange for Dragons is number 14 Jeremy Latimore
Interchange for Eels is number 17 Brad TakairangiInterchange for Dragons is number 15 Kurt Mann
Interchange for Eels is number 19 David GowerInterchange for Dragons is number 16 Blake Lawrie
Eels: In a late change to the starting side, Kane Evans (No.15) will start at prop, with David Gower dropping back to the bench. Bevan French and Oregon Kaufusi were the two players dropped from the squad an hour before game time. Despite a rare win last week, Eels coach Brad Arthur has implemented a major reshuffle. Rookie Jaeman Salmon starts at five-eighth with Corey Norman taking over at fullback, moving Clint Gutherson to centre, Jarryd Hayne to wing and Bevan French out with Will Smith returning on the bench. Tim Mannah was replaced on Friday by David Gower. Ray Stone was also cut 24 hours before kick-off.
Dragons: In a pair of late changes, Leeson Ah Mau moves back to the bench, with Luciano Leilua to start in the back row. Tyson Frizell moves from second row to prop. Jason Nightingale is out, replaced on the wing by Nene Macdonald. Blake Lawrie has been called up to the bench. After Nightingale and Hame Sele waere cut 24 hours out from kick-off, Jacob Host and Zac Lomax were left out an hour before game time.
Head-to-head: Played 34; Eels 17 wins, Dragons 15 wins, 2 draws
Previous result: Dragons won 20-18 at WIN Stadium in round 16
Points per game: Eels 15.7; Dragons 23.6
Points conceded per game: Eels 21.9; Dragons 18.5
Televised: Live on Fox League
Petero Civoniceva's prediction: It's D-day for the Dragons. There's no doubt their form has slipped and their confidence must be down. The question is whether the Eels have enough clout to take advantage of that. Jarryd Hayne has his mojo back and he'll test the Dragons defence but it's time for the Red V to draw a line in the sand and produce the sort of form that wins semi-finals.
Tip: Dragons by 8