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Penrith Panthers vs Parramatta Eels NRL Preview and Team News - Panthers and Eels clash in battle of the west

Andrew Hendrie 8 Mar 2018
  • Penrith Panthers host Parramatta Eels in Round 1 of the NRL on Sunday
  • Eels have won three of the last five meetings between the sides
Panthers host Eels on Sunday

Traditional rivals Penrith Panthers and Parramatta Eels collide in a battle of the west on Sunday at Panthers Stadium in NRL Round 1 action.

Bitter rivals Penrith and Parramatta will be determined for early bragging rights as they square off in the opening round, with both sides expected to challenge for a top four position in 2018.

Penrith are a young side that continues to develop, however there have been rumours of unrest at the foot of the mountains throughout the off-season, starting with Matt Moylan and Bryce Cartwright’s departures and coach Anthony Griffin reportedly losing the locker room.

The Panthers made a terrible start to last season and were forced to play catch-up from the Origin period in a bid to make a last ditch run to the finals - they will need to start better in 2018 if they want to continue on an upward trajectory.

James Maloney is the big signing for this season - the former Warriors, Storm and Sharks playmaker is a winner and the Panthers will be hoping he can bring some success out west.

Parramatta meanwhile experienced an excellent campaign last season after the salary cap drama of the previous year, and they are looking like a side that can genuinely challenge for the premiership if they can catch fire at the right time.

Of course Jarryd Hayne’s return is the big talking point, with the former NFL player slotting into the centres of a fearsome backline that also includes Bevan French, Michael Jennings and halves Corey Norman and Mitchell Moses.

With those names alone the Eels have the potential to be absolutely electrifying, but can they harness all that talent and produce consistent performances?

Matches between these sides have been fairly even in recent times, with the Eels winning three of the last five, while all five of those encounters have been decided by a margin of 1-12. I’m not convinced all is well at Penrith at the moment, while the Eels are looking fresh and ready to go with their best roster in years. I’m going to back the Eels home - perhaps in convincing fashion.

Stats


  • Eels have won three of their last five encounters
  • All five of those games were decided by a 1-12 margin
  • Penrith won three of last four at Panthers Stadium


Teams


Bevan French takes the fullback jersey for the Eels as Jarryd Hayne starts in the centres, while James Maloney gets a Panthers debut in the halves alongside Nathan Cleary.

Panthers team: 1 Dylan Edwards, 2 Josh Mansour, 3 Waqa Blake, 4 Tyrone Peachey, 5 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 6 James Maloney, 7 Nathan Cleary, 8 James Tamou, 9 Peter Wallace (c), 10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 11 Viliame Kikau, 12 Isaah Yeo, 13 Trent Merrin. Interchange: 14 Corey Harawira-Naera, 15 Sam McKendry, 16 Moses Leota, 17 James Fisher-Harris. Reserves: 18 Sione Katoa, 19 Tim Browne, 20 Christian Crichton, 21 Jarome Luai

Eels team: 1 Bevan French, 2 Josh Hoffman, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Jarryd Hayne, 5 Kirisome Auva’a, 6 Corey Norman, 7 Mitchell Moses, 8 Daniel Alvaro, 9 Cameron King, 10 Tim Mannah (c), 11 Manu Ma’u, 12 Tepai Moeroa, 13 Nathan Brown, Interchange: 14 Beau Scott (c), 15 Brad Takairangi, 16 Suaia Matagi, 17 Kane Evans. Reserves: 18 Will Smith, 19 Kenny Edwards, 20 David Gower, 21 Kaysa Pritchard


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Penrith Panthers vs Parramatta Eels NRL Preview and Team News - Panthers and Eels clash in battle of the west

Traditional rivals Penrith Panthers and Parramatta Eels collide in a battle of the west on Sunday at Panthers Stadium in NRL Round 1 action.

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