The opening game of round 20 could be the match of the round as the fourth-placed Eels look to bounce back against the fifth-placed Roosters.
Parramatta were stunned 12-10 in an old-fashioned grind against the Raiders last week, and they are in for one of the toughest runs home in the competition with clashes against Souths, Manly, Melbourne and Penrith on their schedule after this week's blockbuster.
The Roosters' horrible run of injuries continued against Newcastle last week but they got the win anyway, not just coping but thriving following a backline reshuffle after Billy Smith and Matt Ikuvalu were forced from the field.
James Tedesco was the shining light in that match and while they are down on troops the Tricolours do get a more-than-handy backline replacement this week in veteran Josh Morris.
Match: Roosters v Eels
Round 20 -
Venue: BB Print Stadium, Mackay
Roosters: The Roosters are 1-17 with Siosiua Taukeiaho returning from a hamstring injury via the interchange bench.
Veteran centre Josh Morris returns to the side in place of the luckless Billy Smith, who is gone for the season with an ankle injury.
Joey Manu shifts to the wing to replace Matt Ikuvalu, who also suffered an ankle injury against the Knights with Adam Keighran a goal-kicking option at centre.
Fletcher Baker is 18th man. Moala Graham-Taufa dropped off the reserves list an hour before kick-off after Ben Marschke and Naufahu Whyte were omitted from the squad on Wednesday.
The Roosters have won four of their past five games against the Eels.
Eels: Centre Tom Opacic is back after being rested in round 19. Ray Stone replaces Bryce Cartwright on the bench, with Haze Dunster the 18th man.
Marata Niukore is out with a knee injury. Will Penisini was relegated to the reserves and omitted from the squad on Wednesday along with Joey Lussick.
The Eels have not defeated the Roosters twice in the same season since 2007.
Match: Roosters v Eels
Round 20 -
Fullback for Roosters is number 1 James TedescoFullback for Eels is number 1 Clinton Gutherson
Winger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel TupouWinger for Eels is number 2 Maika Sivo
Centre for Roosters is number 3 Josh MorrisCentre for Eels is number 3 Tom Opacic
Centre for Roosters is number 4 Adam KeighranCentre for Eels is number 4 Waqa Blake
Winger for Roosters is number 5 Joseph ManuWinger for Eels is number 5 Blake Ferguson
Five-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Drew HutchisonFive-Eighth for Eels is number 6 Dylan Brown
Halfback for Roosters is number 7 Sam WalkerHalfback for Eels is number 7 Jake Arthur
Prop for Roosters is number 8 Jared Waerea-HargreavesProp for Eels is number 8 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
Hooker for Roosters is number 9 Sam VerrillsHooker for Eels is number 9 Reed Mahoney
Prop for Roosters is number 10 Isaac LiuProp for Eels is number 10 Junior Paulo
2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Angus Crichton2nd Row for Eels is number 11 Isaiah Papali'i
2nd Row for Roosters is number 12 Sitili Tupouniua2nd Row for Eels is number 12 Ryan Matterson
Lock for Roosters is number 13 Victor RadleyLock for Eels is number 13 Nathan Brown
Interchange for Roosters is number 14 Lachlan LamInterchange for Eels is number 15 Shaun Lane
Interchange for Roosters is number 15 Nat ButcherInterchange for Eels is number 16 Oregon Kaufusi
Interchange for Roosters is number 16 Egan ButcherInterchange for Eels is number 17 Will Smith
Interchange for Roosters is number 17 Siosiua TaukeiahoInterchange for Eels is number 19 Ray Stone
Reserve for Roosters is number 19 Fletcher BakerReserve for Eels is number 18 Haze Dunster
- Referee: Grant Atkins
- Touch Judge: Dave Munro
- Touch Judge: Matt Noyen
- Senior Review Official: Ashley Klein
Angus Crichton v Isaiah Papali'i: It's been a big season for tackle-busting back-rowers and this contest features two of the best in Blues star Crichton and Eels signing-of-the-season candidate Papali'i. Both players can be a real handful for defenders, with Crichton (eight tries, 54 tackle breaks) an old hand at causing havoc on the edge and Papali'i (seven tries, 85 tackle breaks) a revelation this year.
In 2018 these two teams couldn't have been further apart on the NRL ladder; the Eels finished with the wooden spoon as the Roosters celebrated the minor and major premierships. But Parramatta have taken a huge leap forward since then. In the past three years the Roosters have won 43 regular season matches to the Eels' 42, with Parramatta finishing one win ahead of them last year and sitting one game ahead this year.
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