The Dyldam Parramatta Eels take on the Melbourne Storm this afternoon at Pirtek Stadium for their Round Nine clash, and Assistant Coach Pete Gentle says the Blue and Gold will need to be on their game to match it with the third ranked side.
Previewing the game thanks to Unibet, Gentle says the Eels are under no illusions of the task ahead of them.
“You can’t drop your guard anywhere across the field. They are very good 1-13 and their bench is pretty handy too,” Gentle said of the opposition.
“The competition table doesn’t belie how good they are going.”
“They have only been beaten by Manly twice and there has only been a couple of points in their losses so we are under no illusion of what has to be done”
The Eels have reflected on their performances this season, and have studied the Storm, and Gentle and the coaching staff will be looking for a much improved 80 minute defensive performance from the Blue and Gold.
“Defensively, we need to improve a lot in that area. We have put in a lot of work over the past couple of weeks. Defensively we need to be a lot better,” Gentle said.
“Melbourne, their game plan doesn’t change too much. They will be throwing their big back rowers into our halves and shifting off the back of that.”
“They have done that since Round One, and we are prepared for it, but you still have to be able to stop it.”
“They are very clinical in what they do” he added.
Off the back of a loss and the Representative Round week off, Gentle said the Blue and Gold have been working hard behind the scenes, particularly in defence, and the coaching staff will be eager to see the side apply it this weekend.
“It has been a good couple of weeks, with obviously a couple things to work on, defence being our priority,” Gentle said.
“Rounds 1-8, we had a good look at it and we have changed a couple of little things, the boys have worked very hard and we are expecting good things.”
The Blue and Gold Army will see the return of winger Semi Radradra after a medial ligament injury suffered in Round 2.
“Semi brings a lot of enthusiasm. It is good to look out across the park and see him out on the edge there,” Gentle said.
“The big thing, he does carry the ball back very strong, not to say that Bureta Faraimo and John Folua haven’t, but he was the leading try scorer last year so it is handy to get those sort of players back.”
The Round 9 match up kicks off at 4pm from Pirtek Stadium.