16th plays 3rd in this match at ANZ Stadium, but oddly enough you could argue that the Eels are an even-money chance of prevailing based on recent efforts.
The Eels languish at the bottom of the ladder after a horror start to their season, but after the strength of their 2017 campaign and with the talent they have in their roster, it always feels like they are one win away from clicking and going on a bit of a run. With just 2 wins from their opening 10 games; if they are going to click, it better be soon.
Conversely, despite the Warriors being largely impressive in amassing 7 wins from the first 10 rounds, their years of inconsistency and unfulfilled talent have people feeling like they are not far away from collapsing into bad habits. Recent demolitions at the hands of the Storm (50-10) and the Roosters (32-0) certainly indicate that it is possible.
2nd June 2017 - Eels won 32-24
9th April 2017 - Warriors won 22-10
4th September 2016 - Eels won 40-18
16th May 2015 - Warriors won 17-13 (Golden Point)
21st March 2015 - Warriors won 29-16
Recent meetings have been a back-and-forth affair, with both teams struggling for consistency in recent seasons. Overall the teams have squared off 38 times with the Eels winning 21 and the Warriors 17.
|Parramatta Eels||New Zealand Warriors|
|1||Clint Gutherson||Roger Tuivasa-Sheck|
|2||Bevan French||David Fusitu'a|
|3||Michael Jennings||Peta Hiku|
|4||Brad Takairangi||Solomone Kata|
|5||George Jennings||Ken Maumalo|
|6||Corey Norman||Blake Green|
|7||Mitchell Moses||Mason Lino|
|8||Daniel Alvaro||Bunty Afoa|
|9||Cameron King||Isaac Luke|
|10||Peni Terepo||Agnatius Paasi|
|11||Beau Scott||Isaiah Papali'i|
|12||Tepai Moeroa||Tohu Harris|
|13||Manu Ma'u||Adam Blair|
|14||Will Smith||Jazz Tevaga|
|15||Suaia Matagi||Chris Satae|
|16||David Gower||James Gavet|
|17||Marata Niukore||Simon Mannering|
|18||Josh Hoffman||Gerard Beale|
|19||Siosaia Vave||Karl Lawton|
|20||Jaeman Salmon||Albert Vete|
|21||Ray Stone||Anthony Gelling|
The facts that matter
No team has scored fewer points than the Eels in 2018, which is not particularly surprising when you consider they are in last place on the ladder but continues to baffle when you consider their roster includes names like Gutherson, French, Jennings, Moses and Norman. Theirs is a team brimming with attacking class, yet they can only manage 14.6 points per game. You can look at their forward pack who aren't getting the team forward and laying a foundation (the Eels are ranked 14th for Run Metres) or creating enough second-phase play (they are 12th in offloads). That is perhaps unfair on the forwards, as the Eels are clearly getting enough chances in good ball, as illustrated by their average of 33 tackles in their opponents' 20 (2nd in the league). The forwards are getting them there; their playmakers are not creating chances.
Moses and Norman are both talented playmakers, but they could probably play in dinner suits and get into an expensive restaurant immediately after the game; it looks like they're playing a lot of their footy before the line and not properly committing defenders. You can have all the lovely touches and beautiful passes you like, if you aren't straightening up occasionally and taking the tough runs and playing through the defence, you simply aren't going to trouble modern defensive patterns. Eels fans will want to see their playmakers bruised and grazed by the end of the 80 minutes, which will show that they've played through the Warriors, not around them.
The Warriors have traditionally been a flighty side that chose to live by the sword (and, therefore, often dying by it) when it comes to fancy-football. In getting to third position after 10 rounds they've given themselves a slight makeover; they're more professional (completing at 77% - equal 3rd in the competition) and are making only 9.6 errors per game (equal 4th in the league). But they haven't stopped attacking, quite the opposite; popping 15.5 offloads per game to lead the league in that area. It seems that they're a more composed Warriors outfit who have become experts at picking their moments to attack a little better.
As a young captain, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck must take a lot of the credit for this turnaround, but the recruitment of experienced players like Peta Hiku, Blake Green, Adam Blair and Tohu Harris have proven to be masterstrokes; helping to guide the Warriors into a more composed squad that will hopefully sustain this level of application for the rest of the season.
It's a must-win situation for the Eels who are playing at home, while the Warriors are without Shaun Johnson and other members of the spine (Mason Lino and Isaac Luke) are carrying injuries into this contest. That being said, the Warriors forward pack is too impressive to ignore against an Eels side that has appeared one-dimensional and we're predicting a Warriors win by 8 or 10 points.
Who will come out on top when the Eels host the Warriors in Friday night footy? Let us know in the comments below.