Parramatta and Newcastle enter this match at opposite ends of the table but both are in good form. The Eels have their sights set on a top four finish after six straight wins whereas the Knights have a realistic chance of avoiding the wooden spoon due to back-to-back victories. It should make for an intriguing Friday night at the Olympic Stadium.
Parramatta have triumphed in the last two meetings with Newcastle after ending a seven-game slump against the Knights. The ANZ Stadium has become a fortress for the Eels in 2017 with the side in a seven-game winning streak there. The Knights will, however, have fond memories of the only time the teams have met at Homebush, the 2001 Grand Final.
The Facts that Matter
The Eels’ charge towards their first finals campaign has quickly gathered pace since the mid-season acquisition of former Wests Tigers half-back Mitchell Moses. Moses’ lethal combination with Corey Norman has put his side in contention for a top four finish. Many, including Parramatta great Peter Sterling, questioned what kind of impact the young half would have on the team in 2017 but it could now be argued that he is the best mid-season acquisition since Ellery Hanley joined Balmain in 1988.
With Moses and Norman directing the team, the Eels attack has caused their opponents numerous issues however it might be their defensive improvements that have turned things around for them. Parramatta’s defence has been amongst the best in the NRL recently, conceding just 62 points in six games. The adage claims that attack wins games but defence wins championships. It is their renewed ability to stop their opposition that has seen the Eels hopes of success rise exponentially.
It has been a long time coming for Knights fans but the light at the end of the tunnel is quickly becoming clearer. Their hopes of avoiding a third consecutive wooden spoon rest heavily on the performances of the Wests Tigers but Newcastle’s form in recent weeks gives fans some cause for optimism. In Brock Lamb, Newcastle have discovered a terrific young prospect, whose starring roles in recent weeks make it hard to believe he is just 20-years-old.
For Lamb to have the room he needs to work in, the Knights forwards will need to lay a strong foundation and much of this responsibility will fall upon Daniel and Jacob Saifiti. The twin brothers are athletic and imposing while they have also found form in the last fortnight. If this continues against the Eels, they will be well on their way to a third straight victory.
Newcastle will enter the match full of the confidence that can only be found through winning and will be ready to take the match to the Eels. After six straight victories, Parramatta now have experts tipping them to not just qualify for the finals but finish top four. Such a lofty finish relies upon victory in games such as this one but the Knights will make them work for 80 minutes. Parramatta to win by 10 points.
Who do you think will win this Friday night blockbuster, the Knights or the Eels? Let us know in the comments below.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?