The Dyldam Parramatta Eels take on the St George-Illawarra Dragons on Saturday (June 27) at home at Pirtek Stadium as they look to post back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
The Blue and Gold posted a gritty 26-20 win over the Melbourne Storm in Round 14, but the win wasn’t without an injury toll and Head Coach Brad Arthur has had to name a significantly reshuffled line up, despite having an extra week’s rest to a Round 15 bye.
Of the side that took to the field in Melbourne, fullback Reece Robinson is unavailable with a fractured cheekbone, hooker Nathan Peats will miss several weeks with a knee injury, hooker Kaysa Pritchard has been ruled out for the season with a pectoral injury, and Anthony Watmough has not been named as he is monitored for a shoulder injury.
As a result, Cody Nelson has been named to make his Eels debut in the number 9 jersey, five-eighth Corey Norman moves to fullback, and Luke Kelly returns to first-grade to partner Chris Sandow in the halves.
The Dragons’ own dummy-half, Mitch Rein, will miss the clash after entering an early guilty plea for a dangerous throw charge, raising the possibility for veteran number 9 Heath L’Estrange to move into the starting side, or Craig Garvey to make his unexpected return to first-grade.
Red V second-rower Joel Thompson has also been left out of the starting side with a knee injury.
The Eels and Dragons last met in 2014, with the Blue and Gold posting a memorable 36-0 victory at Pirtek Stadium. Of the last eight meetings, St George-Illawarra have prevailed in 6, but the Eels have won two of three clashes against the Dragons in Parramatta, and drawn the third.
The Dragons will be stinging from a dramatic 19-14 loss to the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium, Moore Park on Monday night, although they still sit 3rd on the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder despite back-to-back losses.
Kick off is at 7.30pm.
Match Details: Dyldam Parramatta Eels v St George-Illwarra Dragons, Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta. Saturday, June 27, 7.30pm kick off.
Televised: Fox Sports – LIVE from 7.30pm AEDT
The History: Played 29; Storm 14, Eels 13, Drawn 2. The two largest margins between these two sides have both favoured the home team: 36-0 in 2014 (Eels def. Dragons at Pirtek Stadium) and 37-0 in 2009 (Dragons def. Eels at Jubilee Oval).
1. Corey Norman 2. Semi Radradra 3. Will Hopoate 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Ryan Morgan 6. Luke Kelly 7. Chris Sandow 22. Junior Paulo 9. Cody Nelson 10. Tim Mannah © 11. David Gower 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Danny Wicks
Interchange: 14. Darcy Lussick 15. Pauli Pauli 16. Daniel Alvaro 17. Joseph Paulo
Head Coach: Brad Arthur
1. Josh Dugan 2. Dylan Farrell 3. Euan Aitken 4. Peter Mata’utia 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Benji Marshall 8. Leeson Ah Mau 9. Mitch Rein 10. Mike Cooper 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Will Matthes 13. Ben Creagh ©
Interchange: 14. Jake Marketo 15. Trent Merrin 16. Jack de Belin 17. Heath L’Estrange
Head Coach: Paul McGregor
Match Officials: Referee: Ashley Klein. Assistant Referee: Chris Sutton. Touch Judges: Nick Beashel & Kasey Badger. Video Referees: Shane Hayne & Luke Phillips.