Eels v Sharks: Johnson, Gallen out; Salmon in

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 -

Full Time
Eels

Home Team

Eels

Scored 24 points
Sharks

Away Team

Sharks

Scored 12 points

Venue: ANZ Stadium

Match broadcasters:

  • Foxtel
  • LIVE PASS

The Rundown

Team news

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. 

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Eels is number 1 Clinton Gutherson
    Fullback for Sharks is number 1 Josh Dugan
  • Winger for Eels is number 2 Maika Sivo
    Winger for Sharks is number 2 Sosaia Feki
  • Centre for Eels is number 3 Michael Jennings
    Centre for Sharks is number 3 Bronson Xerri
  • Centre for Eels is number 4 Brad Takairangi
    Centre for Sharks is number 4 Josh Morris
  • Winger for Eels is number 5 Blake Ferguson
    Winger for Sharks is number 5 Si Katoa
  • Five-Eighth for Eels is number 6 Jaeman Salmon
    Five-Eighth for Sharks is number 19 Kyle Flanagan
  • Halfback for Eels is number 7 Mitchell Moses
    Halfback for Sharks is number 7 Chad Townsend

Forwards

  • Prop for Eels is number 8 Daniel Alvaro
    Prop for Sharks is number 8 Andrew Fifita
  • Hooker for Eels is number 9 Reed Mahoney
    Hooker for Sharks is number 9 Jayden Brailey
  • Prop for Eels is number 10 Junior Paulo
    Prop for Sharks is number 10 Matt Prior
  • 2nd Row for Eels is number 11 Shaun Lane
    2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Briton Nikora
  • 2nd Row for Eels is number 12 Marata Niukore
    2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Kurt Capewell
  • Lock for Eels is number 13 Tepai Moeroa
    Lock for Sharks is number 15 Jayson Bukuya

Interchange

  • Interchange for Eels is number 14 Peni Terepo
    Interchange for Sharks is number 14 Blayke Brailey
  • Interchange for Eels is number 15 Tim Mannah
    Interchange for Sharks is number 16 Aaron Woods
  • Interchange for Eels is number 16 Kane Evans
    Interchange for Sharks is number 17 Jack Williams
  • Interchange for Eels is number 17 Oregon Kaufusi
    Interchange for Sharks is number 18 Scott Sorensen

Key match-up

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.