Thu, May 2, 12:40pm by Rob Sheeley
Match: Parramatta Eels vs North Queensland Cowboys (NRL Round 8).
When/Where: Saturday, 4 May 2013; 7:30pm at Parramatta Stadium.
The Eels return to their home ground this Saturday after an abysmal display against the Panthers in Round 7. The Eels were handed a thirty two point drubbing by a side that had lost five games in a row in what was their second biggest defeat this season.
Parramatta now find themselves in fifteenth and are $101 to win this seasons premiership. They bounced back and won after their last big loss and will be hoping that history repeats in this match.
North Queensland ensured that they remained in the top eight last week with a win over the Raiders in Townsville. They remain $15 with bookmakers to win the premiership in 2013.
There is no doubting the firepower the Cowboys have at their disposal. Two Australian prop forwards and the likes of Thurston and Bowen in the backs to name but a handful.
New customers can get a $200 free bet at Centrebet.com for NRL round 8.
Head to Head Bets
Eels – $3.00
Cowboys – $1.41
Eels 1-12 – $4.55
Eels 13+ – $7.25
Cowboys 1-12 – $3.10
Cowboys 13+ – $2.45
Eels +7.5 – $1.91
Cowboys -7.5 – $1.91
• Eels have won 5 of their last 7 appearances against the Cowboys.
• The Eels & Cowboys have met 28 times. Eels have won 16, Cowboys 11, and 1 draw.
• Eels have won 4 of their last 5 at Parramatta Stadium.
• Cowboys have lost their last 5 at Parramatta Stadium.
Eels coach Ricky Stuart has made several changes to his line up after last Manday’s embarrassing loss. He has opted to drop both of last week’s centres, Jacob Loko and Cheyse Blair. They have been replaced by Ryan Morgan and Api Pewhairangi who will make his first grade debut.
Ben Smith has also been a victim of the axe and will be raplaced at lock by Joseph Paulo. Tim Mannah, who has received good news that his leg is not broken will miss the match through injury and is replaced by Fuifui Moimoi.
Ben Roberts has also been given the flick by Stuart, this has paved the way for Kaysa Pritchard and Peni Terepoto make their first grade debuts from the bench.
1. Jarryd Hayne (c)
2. Ken Sio
3. Ryan Morgan
4. Api Pewhairangi
5. Vai Toutai
6. Luke Kelly
7. Chris Sandow
8. Mitch Allgood
9. Matt Keating
10. Fuifui Moimoi
11. Reni Maitua (c)
12. Kelepi Tanginoa
13. Joseph Paulo
14. Kaysa Pritchard
15. Darcy Lussick
16. Peni Terepo
17. Matthew Ryan
Parramatta are coming off another hideous defeat, this time at the hands of 250/1 premiership outsiders Penrith. The Eels have managed to win just two matches all year and only one of their last six.
Despite remaining somewhat competitive in the first half against the Panthers last Monday night, it turned out to be a grim evening for the blue and golds. Their defensive line resembled a sieve in the second half as the Panthers ran out 44-12 winners.
In Round 6, the Eels looked to have the Titans beaten on the Gold Coast before being over run in the dying stages. Coach Ricky Stuart was quick to blame everyone but his players for the loss.
In Round 5, the Eels showed great tenacity in defeating the more fancied Sharks. This was easily their best performance in a number of weeks. It was also a great improvement from the week earlier. Round 4 was the Eels worst performance of the year when they were handed a 50-0 drubbing by the Roosters.
The Eels only other win in 2013 came back in Round 1 when they defeated the Warriors 40-10. They will need to find a lot of improvement to be considered a serious top eight chance this season.
The Cowboys welcome back Dallas Johnson who has missed two weeks after being concussed. Ashton Sims and Jason Taumalolo are the eighteenth and nineteenth men on an extended bench.
1. Matthew Bowen
2. Ashley Graham
3. Brent Tate
4. Kane Linnett
5. Kalifa Faifai Loa
6. Johnathan Thurston (c)
7. Michael Morgan
8. Matthew Scott (c)
9. Rory Kostjasyn
10. James Tamou
11. Tariq Sims
12. Glenn Hall
13. Dallas Johnson
14. Ray Thompson
15. Gavin Cooper
16. Scott Bolton
17. Joel Riethmuller
18. Ashton Sims
19. Jason Taumalolo
The Cowboys are slowly starting to find some consistency this season. After a shaky start, they have managed to win two of their last three games. They have now managed three wins from their seven matches and remain in string contention for the top eight.
Last week in Round 7, they were reasonably methodical in their defeat of the Raiders 30-12. They took an early ascendency and made sure they dictated the match from there.
In Round 6, the Cowboys were close to beating one of the competitions form teams, the Broncos. In the end they went down by just two points (12-10). This was enough evidence to show that they can match it with the higher placed teams this season. The question mark hangs mainly over their consistency.
In Round 5, we witnessed what the Cowboys are capable of when they put paid to the Panthers 30-0. That match may have signalled a return to form for the North Queensland club despite their narrow loss last time out.
Earlier in 2013, the Cowboys suffered a shock two point loss to the previously winless Warriors (20-18). This was preceded by a twenty eight point shellacking at the hands of an under strength Newcastle Knights. They appear to be a better side now and winning the games that they are expected to.
Parramatta will be keen to restore some pride this match, particularly the players who were involved in last week’s debacle. Based on that, it may not be an absolute cake walk for the Cowboys.
The biggest hurdle for the Eels however will be trying to form any sort of combination with so many changes to the team. On the flipside of that they will have plenty of youngsters looking to make themselves regulars in first grade too.
In reality the Cowboys can win this game if they simply approach it with a solid mental attitude and execute their game plan. If they can do that they have the players and the ability to win and win well.
Expect Cowboys props Matt Scott and James Tamou to soften the Eels defence early in the piece. Their clash with Fuifui Moimoi may provide a few hits for the highlight reel.
The Cowboys should be able to gain the upperhand based on the toil of these two forwards which will allow Jonathon Thurston some licence to create for his backline. Thurston was clinical against the Raiders last weekend and is forming a nice little combination with young half back Michael Morgan.
The Cowboys outside backs will have a great chance to prosper on the back of Thurston’s magic this week. Expect to see Kalifa Faifai Loa and Ashley Graham heavily involved.
The Cowboys are building towards something this season whilst the Eels are simply rebuilding from nothing. I expect a fight from the Eels at home but think the Cowboys will be too classy.
Cowboys by 14
$1.41 at Centrebet.com looks like tremendous value for the Cowboys in the head to head market.
With his odds much better than his Cowboys wing counterpart, I like Kalifa Faifai Loa to score the first try of the match at $11.
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