James Tedesco and Michael Gordon go head-to-head tomorrow at ANZ Stadium in a showdown that is set to prove crucial to the outcome of the all-important Round 21 match.
Tedesco, fresh from a State of Origin debut, slotted straight back into the team last weekend and made a strong impact against the Dragons; recording a season-high 179 metres and crossing for a try in the 25-12 win.
It’s no secret that the Camden Rams junior has been in stellar form this year, with the fullback clearing 150 metres in each of his past four games for the Club.
Gordon on the other hand, has been part of a rollercoaster season at Parramatta, which started strong but has been halted by off-field issues.
That drama aside, the former Panther and Shark has a big job on his hands, needing to step up as a leader in a side missing a host of talent such as Michael Jennings, Manu Ma’u, Semi Radradra and Corey Norman.
Gordon is the third most experienced player in the Eels line-up tomorrow night, behind only Beau Scott and Isaac De Gois, with his leadership in the backline set to be crucial.
While the try-scoring and line-break tally may favour Tedesco considerably, the experience of Gordon will be important as he looks to defuse the kicking game of in-form Wests Tigers halves Mitch Moses and Luke Brooks.
Look out for an electrifying battle between two speed machines tomorrow night at ANZ Stadium.
Tedesco and Gordon have gone head-to-head on just three previous occasions, with the Eels fullback winning all three of those matches.
The first two clashes between the pair were while Gordon was playing with Cronulla, with the experienced custodian also part of Parramatta’s victory over Wests Tigers earlier this season.
In total, Gordon has a formidable record against Wests Tigers, winning eight of his 12 games and crossing for a total of nine tries against the joint venture.
On the other hand, Tedesco has won just one out of four NRL games against the Eels, the Round 5 Easter Monday clash in 2015.
A different story this time…
Gordon was one Parramatta’s stars during his sides’ narrow win against Wests Tigers earlier this year, making a season-high 181 metres in the Easter Monday showdown.
However, the team surrounding Gordon this weekend is remarkably different, with only 10 out of 17 players remaining from the Round 5 match.
The biggest changes have come in the backline, with Coach Brad Arthur calling upon Bevan French, Vai Toutai, John Folau and mid-season recruit Jeff Robson to fill the voids.
Gordon will be determined to finish the year strong at Parramatta, with the 32-year-old agreeing to join the Sydney Roosters in 2017.
Tedesco climbing the list…
Last weekend’s four-pointer against St. George Illawarra resulted in Tedesco leap-frogging Taniela Tuiaki on the all-time try-scoring list for Wests Tigers.
Tedesco now sits seventh on the list with 43 career tries in just 66 NRL games, the least amount of matches among any other player in the top ten.
Benji Marshall (76), Chris Lawrence (74), Robbie Farah (61), Pat Richards (52), Beau Ryan (46) and Daniel Fitzhenry (45) are the only players ahead of the 23-year-old.
What he said…
“He (Tedesco) is a quality player and played Origin this year,” Michael Gordon said on Wednesday.
“He has been on fire all year when he has been on the field so I’m expecting no less on the weekend and it’s up to our front line to try and shut him down.
“We want to play the way that we want to, by keeping pride in our jersey, and if we do that than we can ruin a lot of teams finals chances.
“We were disappointed with our last game so I am expecting us to come out and play with plenty of fire.
“We have had such a good season and we don’t want to just toss in the towel now so we still want to show we are a quality team despite everything that has happened,” he said.