Unavailable: Josh Hodgson, Charlie Gubb, Sam Williams
Canberra won their first game of the season at the fifth attempt as they beat Canterbury last week. The Raiders went ahead in the ninth minute and stayed in front for the rest of the game as they proved too good for the Bulldogs, eventually running out 26-10 winners.
Ricky Stuart has recalled Blake Austin and Josh Papalii after he said he was impressed with the pair’s attitude when turning up for reserve grade last week. Austin replaces the injured Sam Williams whilst Papalii comes onto the bench in place of Liam Knight. Jack Wighton also returns at fullback in place of Michael Oldfield.
Despite seeing less of the ball with 44% possession, the Raiders were smart with it and completed at 80%. They looked dangerous in attack and with a reinvigorated Austin back in the side with a point to prove, that only bodes well for them moving forward.
Unavailable: Brad Takairangi, Jarryd Hayne, Nathan Brown
Parramatta remain rooted to the bottom of the NRL ladder as they failed to win for the fifth straight game at the start of the 2018 season. Still the only side without a win, their chances of making the finals already look bleak after last week’s 6-12 loss to the Panthers.
Parramatta head coach Brad Arthur is boosted by the return of fullback Clint Gutherson after he recovered from his ACL injury. He takes the place of Will Smith whilst Bevan French also returns and takes the place of Josh Hoffman on the wing. Nathan Brown is out with a knee injury so Tepai Moeroa starts at lock with Kane Evans coming onto the bench.
Parramatta are improving but need a win quickly to pull themselves off the bottom of the ladder. The return of Gutherson is crucial for the Eels and he can help their profligate attack. The Eels have scored just 44 points in five games, an average of 8.8 points per game with that number needing to increase significantly.
There was a chance both of these teams came into this game with zero wins between them this season but Canberra ended the chances of that as they sealed their first win last week. They beat a poor Bulldogs outfit and will now look for back-to-back wins as they host the winless Eels. Parramatta weren’t a million miles away against a solid Penrith side but they aren’t taking their chances in attack. That may change for them with the return of fullback Clint Gutherson and he can lead his side to their first win of the season here although this could be a cagey affair with the Raiders also capable of extending the Eels’ winless streak.
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