Why the Eels can beat the Storm

Don't go writing off the Eels too quickly, they're a big chance of ending Melbourne's season on Saturday night.

There are a few reasons why the Storm will start as warm favourites - Parramatta's poor record away from Bankwest Stadium and Melbourne's superior form across the whole season are the first two that come to mind.

No doubt it is a huge ask but there are plenty of factors in Parramatta's favour if they can get their game plan and their mental approach right.

Melbourne are going to be battered and bruised after an extremely physical game against Canberra that went down to the wire.

To go through all that and come away with nothing takes a tremendous toll -  physically and psychologically.

Melbourne probably still should have won that game. If they hadn't got off to such a slow start they probably would have earned a week off. In the end, it still took an unlucky error on their own line to gift Canberra the match-winning try.

After not a great first 40 minutes, they really fixed things up in the second half and a big part of that was the impact of Nelson Asofa-Solomona who was just magnificent and made a huge impact in the middle.

Their focus this week is going to be to start fast and not get caught out because that has been one of the criticisms of them this year. Fast starts have also been central to how the Eels have got the jump on teams in their recent wins.

Melbourne have mostly got away with their slow starts just through the quality of the team, but they may not be so lucky if they repeat that on Saturday.

Parramatta will need to come out with that mindset of showing them it won't be easy. They need to be just as physical as Canberra were.

They have the forward pack to do it – on the weekend their pack was pretty aggressive.

They need to repeat that and on top of that they need to play really fast and also move the ball around. Ball movement was another strength of theirs on the weekend.

I like the way they attacked Brisbane's edges then came back to the middle and shifted the ball around.

However, those long cut-out passes won't be as effective against the Storm. The Brisbane defence was really passive but the Storm will slow the ruck down and press off their line hard.

They'll be looking for those cut-out passes so they can get up and bash the person catching the ball. They'll be looking to drive them back and put a huge dent in Parramatta's momentum. The Eels need to be mindful of that.

A huge strength for the Eels is the size of their outside backs and the go-forward they provide. If the Storm muscle up in the middle the Eels need to go wide early and quickly and use that as another go-forward platform.

If they can match it with the Storm early on they can play up-tempo and shift the ball around. If they can keep that up the Storm will start to feel the effects of last week and fatigue sooner.

Parramatta have no excuses coming in because they dominated possession against Brisbane and they didn't have to make as many tackles. It was effectively a solid training run and hey should be jumping out of their skin.

I hope they don't try and get too tricky with their passing game. It needs to be on point, putting ball runners on the front foot.

The way the Eels change direction a lot means neither side of the ruck for the Storm can slacken off. The entire defensive line has to come up and go back.

Completion rates will be crucial; if they Eels can limit the number of mistakes they make but still throw the ball around and ask plenty of questions they can wear the Storm out.

A lot of people are saying the Storm made uncharacteristic mistakes last week but a lot of that was down to the Canberra defensive line putting pressure on them.

The Storm won't lay down and I'm sure that loss was a big shock to the system.

I don't think Parramatta's huge loss to Melbourne in round nine will be a big factor because both teams are different now to what they were then.

However, if the Eels let Melbourne get off to a quick start and get a few tries in front, that's a massive uphill battle to try and reel in.

If the Eels can hang in there and go with them and use the clock and possession to their advantage, maintain their physicality and attack from all over field, they have a really good chance to book a date with the Roosters in the preliminary finals.

 

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