Wests Tigers and the Eels kick off the post-Origin period aiming to break out of mid-table mediocrity and launch a serious premiership challenge.
The Eels go into the derby at Bankwest Stadium clinging to eighth spot on the ladder, one place ahead of the Tigers courtesy of points difference.
But fourth place on the table sits a tantalising two points away so the team that triumphs on Sunday gets a shot at inserting themselves in that conversation.
While notionally a home game for Wests Tigers the upper hand belongs to the Eels who boast a 6-2 record at their new stadium. Their co-tenants, in contrast, have struggled mightily at Bankwest with their disappointing 1-3 record including two heavy defeats.
One of those came in the corresponding fixture in round six when they were hammered 51-6 by Parramatta in the facility's grand opening.
Match: Wests Tigers v Eels
Round 17 -
Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Sydney
Wests Tigers: Captain Moses Mbye has been named in the centres to back up from Origin III on Wednesday. Josh Aloiai has again been named to start with Thomas Mikaele on the bench but the pair may swap closer to kick-off as they did against the Roosters last week. After Josh Reynolds and Oliver Clark were trimmed from the reserves list on Saturday, Paul Momirovski and Chris McQueen were left out an hour before kick-off.
Eels: Unsurprisingly, Brad Arthur pretty much kept the team that beat Canberra intact, with Marata Niukore coming onto the bench for Peni Terepo in the only change to the 17-man side. After Arthur cut Bevan French and Greg Leleisluao from the squad on Saturday, Oregon Kaufusi and Daniel Alvaro were left out an hour before game time.
Fullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Corey ThompsonFullback for Eels is number 1 Clinton Gutherson
Winger for Wests Tigers is number 2 Robert JenningsWinger for Eels is number 2 Maika Sivo
Centre for Wests Tigers is number 3 Moses MbyeCentre for Eels is number 3 Brad Takairangi
Centre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Esan MarstersCentre for Eels is number 4 Josh Hoffman
Winger for Wests Tigers is number 5 David NofoalumaWinger for Eels is number 5 Blake Ferguson
Five-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Benji MarshallFive-Eighth for Eels is number 6 Dylan Brown
Halfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Luke BrooksHalfback for Eels is number 7 Mitchell Moses
Prop for Wests Tigers is number 8 Josh AloiaiProp for Eels is number 8 Kane Evans
Hooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Robbie FarahHooker for Eels is number 9 Reed Mahoney
Prop for Wests Tigers is number 10 Alex TwalProp for Eels is number 10 Junior Paulo
2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Ryan Matterson2nd Row for Eels is number 11 Shaun Lane
2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 12 Chris Lawrence2nd Row for Eels is number 12 Manu Ma'u
Lock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Matthew EisenhuthLock for Eels is number 13 Nathan Brown
Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 14 Jacob LiddleInterchange for Eels is number 14 Jaeman Salmon
Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Thomas MikaeleInterchange for Eels is number 15 Marata Niukore
Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 16 Elijah TaylorInterchange for Eels is number 16 David Gower
Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 17 Michael Chee-KamInterchange for Eels is number 17 Tepai Moeroa
- Referee: Gerard Sutton
- Referee: Adam Cassidy
- Touch Judge: Tim Roby
- Touch Judge: Rickey MacFarlane
- Video Referee: Ben Lowe
- Senior Review Official: Steve Chiddy
Though in the twilight of his career Benji Marshall has shown he still possesses the ability to impact a game with his poise and creativity, while Mitchell Moses will be looking to add to his 16 try assists this season - the most in the competition.
For the Tigers to win
They will have to exploit their edge on the defensive side of the ball to rein in the prolific Eels attack which sits in the top five in seven different team categories. The Tigers top the NRL for tackles and they will be working overtime to rein in Moses and his wealth of attacking weapons. A feisty performance against the Roosters will give them confidence heading into the derby.
For the Eels to win
With plenty of points in them Parramatta, who have missed more tackles than every side except for the league-leading Panthers, will be focused on tightening up their defence. Maika Sivo will be looking to add to his competition-leading 12 tries. With only Blake Ferguson backing up from Origin and the benefit of a week off they should be fresh and fired up to perform in front of a rabid home crowd.
Brett Kimmorley says
I liked the way the Wests Tigers played last week. They looked great. As is the case with Ivan Cleary at Penrith, it looks like Michael Maguire has needed half the season to get his team playing the way he would like. Benji Marshall’s 300th game is all the motivation they’ll need. Parramatta will be fresh but I don’t think that will be enough. Wests Tigers by 6
The numbers say Mitchell Moses holds Parramatta's fate in his hands. Not only does he lead the comp in try assists but also in total kicks and he is top five in linebreak assists (4th), points (5th), goals (4th) and kick metres (2nd).
And another thing ...
The Eels may have plenty of points in them but they are far from clinical, ranking third in both total errors and handling errors. If they don't clean up their act they could pay a heavy penalty.