Wests Tigers v Eels Preview



Wests Tigers v Eels Preview
Wed, 19 Aug 2009 16:36

Wests Tigers v Eels
Sydney Football Stadium
Friday 7.35pm

If you have something to do this Friday night other than being at the Sydney Football Stadium (you can have a leave pass if you’ll be at WIN Stadium in Wollongong), cancel it!

For if ever a match deserved the “house full” sign it is this one, so fans should drop everything and rush down to the ground to witness the action first hand as these two sides battle it out for what’s likely to be just one available place in the finals.

Such is the make-up of the top eight the winner here could seriously have one foot in the door of the post-season, while the loser could be trying to get up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

Both teams are in sensational form, with the Wests Tigers destroying the Sharks last weekend to make it six wins on the trot and the Eels pummelling the Warriors to make it a flashy five in a row.

Tim Sheens’ boys have roared all the way up to fifth place on the ladder – and could still even make a play at a home final if they keep winning and the Storm falter in the final few rounds.

But success can be so fleeting in the lower half of the eight; the Tigers are well aware they are joined by three other teams on 26 competition points, with the Eels ready to pounce in ninth, just a solitary point outside the finals zone.

So close is the ladder it is possible the Tigers could go from fifth to 10th with a loss… while the Eels could drop as low as 11th if they can’t come up with the goods.

The home side has lost stalwart bench prop John Skandalis to injury with his place on the bench taken by Alan Schirnack. They have also pushed Keith Galloway to the bench with Todd Payten moving up to play prop and Danny Galea starting in the second row.

Parramatta have a minor change to the side that accounted for the Warriors, with Nathan Cayless returning from injury at prop; this pushes Tim Mannah to the bench while Broderick Wright misses out. (Wright suffered minor knee cartilage damage anyway and will miss a few weeks recovering.)

Watch out Wests Tigers: It is far from a secret but the Eels’ success can be traced to the prolific nature and the quality of their offloads in recent times. Parramatta’s second-phase play has been by far the best in the league and with 336 offloads for the year they lead the competition by a long way. (Canberra are the only other side with more than 300 offloads but even the Raiders are 24 offloads behind the Eels.)

The Wests Tigers have just 207 offloads for the year, which is way down in 11th in the category.

The leading Eels offloaders are Nathan Hindmarsh (44 offloads), Krisnan Inu (35), Nathan Cayless (30), Matthew Keating (23) and Eric Grothe (23) and should Feliti Mateo return to the side (31) in the near future he will add another offloading dimension.

The Tigers need to find a way to complete the tackle without allowing second-phase or they will be backpedalling all evening… and the likes of Jarryd Hayne will tear them apart.

Watch out Eels: The Wests Tigers’ backline is making plenty of waves but as the season gets longer it’s the form of English import second-rower Gareth Ellis that’s the standout.

While Ellis is one of the poor unfortunate players who are yet to score a try this season, he has still been quite brilliant, particularly recently. His defence is strong and bone-rattling and his decoy running and pre-line passing have featured in plenty of try-scoring opportunities. The Eels need to give the Englishman plenty of respect or they will be nursing some big bruises.

Speaking of bruises, the number dished out by Taniela Tuiaki must now be in the thousands. The mammoth winger has 21 tries from as many games and needs to be contained or the Eels will walk away black, blue and gold.

Where it will be won: Making the most of momentum shifts. It would be easy to suggest this game will come down to the scintillating attack of both sides, or consequently the defence needed to thwart it, but on a deeper level it will be how they perform in their periods of prosperity that will decide the result.

Each and every match has its periods of momentum for either side, which can come from repeat sets or even just a few sets in a row of good gains. The side that can post points in these times, and therefore capitalise on the ebb and flow of possession and field position, will get the cookies and cream – and probably a finals berth.

To get momentum in a match it takes discipline and a willingness to build pressure. For both of these sides this is easier said than done, as they love to throw the ball around and make something from nothing.

But whoever finds the balance between the odd ‘power play’ and building real pressure will be on the front foot.

The history: Played 19; Wests Tigers 5, Eels 13, drawn 1\. The Wests Tigers prevailed 23-6 at Parramatta Stadium earlier this season, which was their first win over the Eels in almost forever. The Eels have still won seven of the past eight and until earlier in the season well and truly had the wood over the joint-venture side.

The two sides have never come face to face at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Conclusion: There is no easy way to tip a winner here. If you had a magic eight ball, the result would be ‘outlook hazy’ or ‘try again later’ as it is certainly is a 50/50 call.

If the Wests Tigers have an edge it is in the fact their attack has a few more dimensions than the Eels. That said, the Parramatta defence has been tight in recent times.

Take a stab in the dark as there are merits to both teams!

Match officials: Referees – Tony Archer & Jared Maxwell; Sideline Officials – Steve Chiddy & Paul Holland; Video Ref – Paul Simpkins.

Televised: Channel Nine – Live 7.30pm (NSW), delayed 9.30pm (Qld); Fox Sports – Delayed 3.30am.


Preview: Wests Tigers v Eels
Scott Brooks, Sportal

VENUE & TIME: Sydney Football Stadium, Friday August 21, 7.35pm (AEST).
COVERAGE: Channel 9
LAST TIME: Tigers 23 - Eels 6 at Parramatta Stadium, Round 14, 2009

WALKING WOUNDED: The Tigers have lost experienced forward John Skandalis with a corked leg suffered against the Sharks last week, forcing Todd Payten up to the front-row and giving utility Danny Galea a start in the second-row. There are injury concerns hanging over the heads of skipper Robbie Farah (calf) and interchange forward Keith Galloway (hand), while full-back Shannon Gallant (broken leg) is not due back until the finals.
The only change for the Eels is the return of skipper Nathan Cayless from a calf injury at prop, forcing Tim Mannah back to the interchange bench. Despite not being named, utility Feleti Mateo is rated a good chance of making his comeback from a bicep injury on the interchange bench.

FORM: The Tigers not only took the hapless Sharks to the cleaners last Sunday (56-10), but the win saw them leap from seventh spot to fifth on the ladder. It doesn't seem that long ago the Tigers were near the cellar, bringing on calls for the sacking of coach Tim Sheens. Six successive wins later and some people are wondering whether this talented group can emulate the memorable deeds of the 2005 side.
On the subject of in-form teams, look no further than the rejuvenated Eels. Like the Tigers, they were written off as finals contenders long ago, that was until dazzling full-back Jarryd Hayne decided to transfer his mouth-watering Origin form to club level, inspiring the rest of his teammates to five-straight wins. During that time the Eels have scored 155 points and conceded just 36\. They briefly snuck into the top-eight for the first time since Round 3 following their comprehensive 40-4 victory over the Warriors on Saturday night, but subsequent wins by the Broncos and Knights have pushed Parramatta back to ninth spot.

WHO'S HOT: The combination of Benji Marshall and Tim Moltzen at the Tigers seems to be developing by the week, even with Moltzen reverting to the custodian's role to fill the void left by the injured Shannon Gallant. The two flatmates scored three tries between them against the Sharks and all up contributed almost 400 running metres.
The Jarryd Hayne express continues to delight fans of the game, particularly those of the blue and gold persuasion. No tries for the NRL's hottest property last Saturday night, but he left the crowd breathless almost every time he touched the ball. Billy Slater's reign as the Australian full-back could well be over with Hayne in such fine form.

WE THINK: The Eels have been a bogey side for the Tigers for many years now, winning eight of the last nine clashes between the two teams. But the Tigers did comfortably account for their western Sydney rivals earlier in the season and do not appear as vulnerable in the forwards this year - an area where the Eels usually dominate them. Unfortunately for the Tigers, there are injury clouds hanging over a couple of their stars which could prove decisive in this toss-of-the-coin match. We know the Tigers are on a roll, but there appears to be something special building at Parramatta at present with Hayne and a revitalised Moimoi leading the charge.

Let's hope at least 30,000 can make it to this rather odd venue for two western Sydney clubs. Eels by 4.


Laurie Daley previews round 24:

Wests Tigers round 14 victory over Parramatta snapped and 8 game losing streak against the Eels that dated back to their pre-premiership era. The 23-6 result came at a point where both teams were floundering outside the 8 whereas their round 24 matchup presents a battle of fifth versus ninth. The Tigers have soared to become the league's most potent attacking force, averaging more tries and linebreaks than any other team, while Parramatta are second only to the Dragons in terms of metres gained and well ahead of the pack when it comes to offloads per game. With both teams improving their defensive credentials in the back half of the season as well, there is absolutely nothing to split them - especially at an almost-neutral venue.

Laurie says: This should be one of the games of the season in front of what they are already predicting will be well over 30,000 fans. The Tigers are shooting for seven in a row, while the in-form Eels are striving for six straight. Jarryd Hayne is on fire and the Tigers will need to keep him quiet if they are to be any chance of victory. Mastering that feat will hinge on how well the Tigers can halt the go-forward of Fuifui Moimoi and Nathan Cayless. Wests Tigers are playing with plenty of control at the moment and I think they will have enough firepower across the park to silence the Eels.


From the SMH:

Wests Tigers V Parramatta
Greg Prichard | August 21, 2009

Friday, SFS, 7.35pm
Referees: Tony Archer, Jared Maxwell
Head to head: Tigers 5, Eels 13, drawn 1
Last clash: Tigers 23 bt Eels 6 at Parramatta Stadium (Rnd 14, 2009)
TAB Sportsbet: Tigers $2.30, Eels $1.60
FootyTAB: Tigers +3.5 points

Highly anticipated clash between two teams that have hit red-hot form coming into the business end of the season. Six straight wins have seen the Tigers rise to fifth on the ladder. Five straight wins have taken the Eels to ninth. If the Tigers win, and the Sea Eagles beat the Storm, they will be only one point outside of the top four. If they lose, they will have to wait to see how other results go before knowing whether they are still in the top eight after this round. That's how tight it is on the competition table. If the Eels win, they will definitely finish the round in the top eight, because they are only one point behind the Tigers. So it is a critically important game to both teams, and is bound to be played with finals-like intensity.

But who will win? There are obviously strong arguments for both sides, but I've got to go with the Eels. I just think they're a more complete team than the Tigers, whose young halfback, Robert Lui, will be playing only his second first-grade game. The pressure will be on Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall to come up with some playmaking pearls against an Eels defence that has conceded just 7.2 points per game during the last five rounds. The Eels have got the best player in the world at the moment - fullback Jarryd Hayne - and a forward pack that is powering, with prop Fuifui Moimoi in a starring role with those ferocious charges that often send defenders flying. The Eels are right on top of their game, with journeyman halfback Jeff Robson solid and young five-eighth Daniel Mortimer showing glimpses of a potentially terrific career.

The Tigers beat the Eels 23-6 at Parramatta Stadium in round 14, but the Eels won eight straight clashes between these two teams before that. The Tigers are on a five-day turnaround.