Both these teams are looking strong in 2019 with two wins from their first three games, Parramatta starting the season with back-to-back victories ahead of last week's loss to the premiers while Cronulla rebounded from a first-up loss to thump two Queensland sides.
The Eels' early performances have surprised the critics, with Blake Ferguson helping spark the team to wins over Penrith and Canterbury before the blue and golds matched it with the Roosters until the final 20 minutes last Friday night.
The Sharks lost Paul Gallen and Matt Moylan to injuries in Townsville last weekend but still came away with an emphatic 42-16 win.
Match: Eels v Sharks
Round 4 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium
- LIVE PASS
Eels: The Eels are 1-17 for the crucial ANZ Stadium clash. Five-eighth Dylan Brown (back) is out and his place is taken by Jaeman Salmon. Tepai Moeroa has been named as the starting lock, with Peni Terepo dropping back to the bench. Ray Stone and George Jennings were omitted from 24 hours before game time and Josh Hoffman and Matt McIlwrick dropped out an hour before kick-off.
Sharks: Sharks five-eighth Shaun Johnson is a late scratching from the team to face the Eels at ANZ Stadium. The Kiwi veteran has a quadriceps injury and will have his place taken in the starting side by Kyle Flanagan. Johnson was in still in the Sharks squad when the final team list was submitted an hour before kick-off. Paul Gallen (ribs) was ruled out 24 before kick-off. Jack Williams was named on Friday to take his place in the starting side but in a late switch an hour before kick-of Jayson Bukuya will start in No.15 and William goes to the bench. Bradin Hamlin-Uele was the other player ruled out on match eve while Kyle Flanagan and Aaron Gray made way an hour before game time. Josh Dugan has been named as the man to fill injured Matt Moylan's shoes at fullback, while Bronson Xerri has been promoted to start at right centre.
Fullback for Eels is number 1 Clinton GuthersonFullback for Sharks is number 1 Josh Dugan
Winger for Eels is number 2 Maika SivoWinger for Sharks is number 2 Sosaia Feki
Centre for Eels is number 3 Michael JenningsCentre for Sharks is number 3 Bronson Xerri
Centre for Eels is number 4 Brad TakairangiCentre for Sharks is number 4 Josh Morris
Winger for Eels is number 5 Blake FergusonWinger for Sharks is number 5 Si Katoa
Five-Eighth for Eels is number 6 Jaeman SalmonFive-Eighth for Sharks is number 19 Kyle Flanagan
Halfback for Eels is number 7 Mitchell MosesHalfback for Sharks is number 7 Chad Townsend
Prop for Eels is number 8 Daniel AlvaroProp for Sharks is number 8 Andrew Fifita
Hooker for Eels is number 9 Reed MahoneyHooker for Sharks is number 9 Jayden Brailey
Prop for Eels is number 10 Junior PauloProp for Sharks is number 10 Matt Prior
2nd Row for Eels is number 11 Shaun Lane2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Briton Nikora
2nd Row for Eels is number 12 Marata Niukore2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Kurt Capewell
Lock for Eels is number 13 Tepai MoeroaLock for Sharks is number 15 Jayson Bukuya
Interchange for Eels is number 14 Peni TerepoInterchange for Sharks is number 14 Blayke Brailey
Interchange for Eels is number 15 Tim MannahInterchange for Sharks is number 16 Aaron Woods
Interchange for Eels is number 16 Kane EvansInterchange for Sharks is number 17 Jack Williams
Interchange for Eels is number 17 Oregon KaufusiInterchange for Sharks is number 18 Scott Sorensen
Shaun Lane & Marata Niukore v Briton Nikora & Kurt Capewell. The second-row duos of both clubs have been success stories this season, with new signing Lane and 22-year-old prospect Niukore outstanding for Parramatta while rookie Nikora and the versatile Capewell stepping up in place of the retired Luke Lewis and the injured Wade Graham. Both Lane and Niukore have already crossed for tries this year while the impressive Nikora looks a real find for Cronulla and Capewell has been used to cover for injuries in the outside backs.
For the Eels to win
They can't afford to switch off. Being beaten by the Roosters is nothing to be embarrassed about but Brad Arthur was disappointed with his team's goal-line defence late in the game on Friday night and they'll have to be more focused against a team that ran in five tries in one 20-minute burst against the Cowboys in round 3. This Sharks team looks likely to make the Eels pay for any lapse in concentration in defence.
For the Sharks to win
The fringe players will need to step up. With Moylan (hamstring) and Gallen (rib cartilage) both out there will be more pressure on Cronulla's youngsters to step up. The likes of Jack Williams and Bronson Xerri have plenty of talent but it's hard to replace experience at this level.
Brett Kimmorley says
Parramatta competed against the Roosters but made a few errors. The Eels pack is powerful but I think the time will be taken away from Mitchell Moses and his new halves partner Jaeman Salmon again this week. It'll be interesting to see how 20-year-olds Salmon and Reed Mahoney go against another strong defensive team in Cronulla. For the Sharks, the make-up of their side will determine a lot because they'll probably be down a few troops. Eels by 2
Eels Stat Attack
Parramatta's attack has improved massively this season. They ranked last in the NRL for points scored in 2018 but now sit equal-second for tries scored (13) after three rounds. Mitch Moses has enjoyed his new status as the team's undisputed No.1 playmaker while Ferguson and Fijian rookie Maika Sivo have given the team some real strike weapons on the wings.
Sharks Stat Attack
Shaun Johnson was signed to replace the attacking spark Cronulla lost when Valentine Holmes left the club and so far he's been up to the task, laying on three try assists in as many games and kicking 11 goals at 85%. The Sharks actually lead the league for line breaks (15) and are among the top five attacking teams in the competition after three rounds.
And another thing ...
They may have finished at the bottom of the ladder last year but in 2017 the Eels pipped Cronulla to a top-four finish, despite the Sharks winning the only contest between the sides that season. Both teams finished the year on similar notes however, with eventual grand finalists North Queensland knocking out the Sharks in the first week of the finals and the Eels a week later.