All posts by FootyFever

NRL Finals Week 2 Preview: Parramatta Eels v South Sydney Rabbitohs

Parramatta Eels back-rower Ryan Matterson

It is do-or-die on Saturday night at Bank West Stadium as the Parramatta Eels and South Sydney Rabbitohs fight to keep their 2020 campaigns alive.

The winner will book a date with Penrith next Saturday evening in a preliminary final.

Souths have named an unchanged 17, whilst for the Eels, George Jennings replaces Maika Sivo and Ray Stone comes in the 17 for Marata Niukore. Blake  Ferguson will face a fitness test.

However, Brad Arthur didn’t seem overly confident when speaking on the radio earlier this week.

With Ferguson now ruled out, a reshuffle is likely to see Brad Takairangi coming into the centres and Waqa Blake shifting to the wing.

At times last Saturday, it appeared the Eels would pull off a massive upset against the Storm.

They raced out of the blocks and established early dominance.

However, the relentless Storm reeled them in and prevailed 36 – 24. One very interesting stat was that the Eels only had 43 per cent of possession.

Very difficult to win any game with that stat, let alone against the Storm.

South Sydney Rabbitohs forward Cam Murray

A repeat of this against the Bunnies will no doubt result in the Eels crashing out of the finals.

Souths were awful in the opening exchanges last Sunday.

Numerous errors lead to directly to Newcastle tries. However, once they settled, Souths dominated through their high octane attack, eventually running out winners 46 -20.

Some of the Eels’ right side defence was diabolical on Saturday night. There seemed to be a lack of communication and disconnection as a unit.

No doubt Arthur and his coaching staff would have worked overtime on that this week, given the threat the Souths left side attack poses.

For the Eels to win, they must control the ball and ensure they tighten up out wide. Look for Ryan Matterson to get at Cody Walker as much as possible.

I also expect Corey Allen to be tested early under the high ball

Dylan Brown will be much better for the run. He and fellow halves partner Moses must control the tempo with deep kicks to the corners.

I would also look to mix it up and kick early in the count.

Parramatta Eels half Dylan Brown

In an interesting tactical move,  Arthur, at this stage, has gone with a very mobile bench, with only one middle forward on it.

Look for the Eels, possibly later in each half to go small, with Stone coming onto to play in the middle along side Reed Mahoney.

This tactic, if used, will look to negate Cook around the ruck as well as Cody ‘ Kemba’ Walker drifting back to the middle.

Offensively it will give the Eels quicker leg speed through the middle.

The speed of play from Souths, at times, is frightening.

Lead by  Walker, who is in career-best form, they will test Parramatta at every opportunity, especially through their lethal left side.

In a great sign for the Rabbits, Damien Cook made some great, probing runs last Sunday.

Expect him to exploit slow Eels defenders in tight.  Souths pack has been excellent over the last couple of weeks.

Whilst not boasting many big names, they have been highly effective in laying the platform for Walker and the like.

The likes of  Tevita Tatola, Tom Burgess, and Jayden Su’A have been outstanding.

Cam Murray is a real key for Souths with his ability to get in between defenders and generate quick play the balls.

Final Word.

For me, it comes down to can Eels contain the free wheeling Souths?

In short, I believe they can. Look for the Eels to turn this into a real street fight.

However, I feel Souths will prevail late, in what shapes as a tremendous contest.

For those that indulge in the punt, we got the chocolates last week. Again, Eels at the start is the play.

Enjoy your finals footy!

South Sydney Rabbitohs five-eighth Cody Walker

Finals Week: Melbourne Storm v Parramatta Eels preview

Melbourne Storm hooker and captain Cam Smith

It’s familiar territory for Craig Bellamy and his troops as they embark on yet another finals campaign.

In an incredible period of sustained excellence, the Purple Pride line up for there 10 consecutive finals appearance.

They do so on the back of  16 wins and 4 loss regular season.

Scoring points hasn’t been an issue for the Storm in 2020, they recorded 534 points which was the third-best in the league.

Their defence, which has been the bedrock of the Storm during the tenure of Bellamy was equally impressive; they conceded only 276 points, which was second-best in the NRL this season.

Success starved Parramatta, who are chasing their first premiership since 1986 enter the playoffs with a 15 and 5 record.

The Eels are looking to improve on their 2019 campaign which saw them demolish Brisbane in the first week, before being destroyed by ironically Melbourne in the second week.

They registered 392 points for and only 288 against.

Whilst Brad Arthur has instilled a toughness and desire in defence – third best in the competition, their attack at times has looked clunky, to say the least.

The Storm will look to establish themselves, early through a middle third assault.

Look for Smith to play very tight through Bromwich, Welch, and big NAS.

In addition, expect Mitchell Moses to come under heavy scrutiny from the Storm edge runners.

Parramatta Eels halfback Mitch Moses

I expect that Kenny Bromwich and boom rookie  Faasumalueaui to target Moses. NAS may also play a little wider at times.

As the game unfolds, look for  Papenhuyzen to be sniffing around Smith and Jarome Hughes seeking to exploit tired defenders.

For the Eels, I believe they will look to move the Storm around with some second phrase play.

Look for some late offloads and tips on to unsettle the regimented Storm defence, from the ‘worlds biggest halfback’ – Junior Paulo.

At times, the Storm have looked a little shaky on the right-side defence. look for the Eels to get plenty of numbers down that edge to isolate  Lee and  Hughes.

The Eels will also be looking to gain early ascendency in the tackle count via the runs of  Ferguson and Sivo.

In my opinion, Melbourne looks a lot more settled this season.

Melbourne Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen

This is due to the continued development of Papenhuyzen and the outstanding form of Hughes, who provides an excellent foil for Smith and Munster, who both look fresh after missing some games late in the season.

The Storm have some excellent strike on the bench through Faasumalueaui and ‘the hyperactive piece of cheese’ – Brandon Smith.

However, they will sorely miss the work of  Finucane in the middle, who I have massive wraps on.

Melbourne Storm forward Tino Fa’asuamaleaui

Big games are won by big match players, for mine Mitchell Moses must dominate for the Eels to win.

He has developed a good combination with Matterson this season. Moses needs to probe and attack the Storm middle late in each half.

The inclusion of Dylan Brown is significant as the Eels have sorely missed his attack. He will certainly test the Storm on the edges through his speed and evasiveness

Final word.

Sorry Eels fans, but .am tipping the  Storm to win and progress to another preliminary final.

I expect a tight tussle in the first half before the class and guile of Smith and Munster swing it the way of the Storm.

However, the line of 13,5 is too much and if having a bet, I suggest taking the Eels at the plus.

Enjoy your finals footy!!