Two teams will head to ANZ Stadium this long weekend for their traditional Easter Monday clash — one team with a point to prove and the other with, well, points.
It’s been a very contrasting start to the season for Wests Tigers and the Parramatta Eels with Ivan Cleary’s side incredibly unlucky not to be 3-0 following a controversial Golden Point loss to the Brisbane Broncos.
On the other hand, Parramatta have struggled in both attack and defence through their opening three games and find themselves entrenched on the bottom of the ladder.
Always a blockbuster affair with a vocal crowd at ANZ Stadium, Monday’s game has been made even harder for the visiting Eels who will be without star outside backs Bevan French and Jarryd Hayne — both of whom picked up injuries in their last start loss to the Cronulla Sharks.
For Wests Tigers, the news is much better on the injury front with Benji Marshall named to play despite sustaining an ankle injury against the Broncos, while Jacob Liddle (shoulder) and Tuimoala Lolohea (knee) have both been named amongst the reserves for the first time in 2018.
With a long turnaround for both teams as they take part in the final game of the round, it’ll be interesting to see how those injuries affect the final make up of the 17-man squads on the day.
Parramatta do hold recent bragging rights with victories in the last two Easter meetings — taking the overall head-to-head on the day to two wins apiece since the first Easter Monday fixture in 2014.
With the history that’s developed over the past few years, Monday’s game was already shaping as one of the most anticipated games of the year, but given the contrasting starts to the season for both teams and the equal need for the two points on offer, this one might just be the best instalment yet…
Date — Monday, April 2, 2018
Time — 4:00pm AEST (Gates open at 1:30pm)
Venue — ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park
GAME DAY INFORMATION
TV, RADIO AND LIVE STREAM INFORMATION
TV — Live via Fox League (Ch.502)
Radio — FM 104.9 Triple M Sydney, AM 702 ABC Grandstand, CrocMedia
Live Stream — Foxtel Go, NRL Digital Pass, Watch NRL Streaming (exc. Australia)
LATEST CROWNBET ODDS
Head to Head — Wests Tigers ($1.90), Parramatta ($1.90)
Line — Wests Tigers +1.0 ($1.85), Parramatta -1.0 ($1.95)
Odds correct as of 3:00pm, Wednesday, March 28 — 18+ only, gamble responsibly.
Wests Tigers — 1. Corey Thompson 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Esan Marsters 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Russell Packer 9. Pita Godinet 10. Ben Matulino 11. Chris Lawrence 12. Robbie Rochow 13. Matt Eisenhuth (Interchange: 15. Alex Twal 16. Michael Chee Kam 17. Josh Aloiai 19. Tim Grant 20. Jacob Liddle 21. Tui Lolohea)
Parramatta Eels — 1. Will Smith 2. George Jennings 3. Michael Jennings 4. Kirisome Auva’a 5. Josh Hoffman 6. Corey Norman 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Daniel Alvaro 9. Kaysa Pritchard 10. Tim Mannah 11. Manu Ma’u 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Nathan Brown (Interchange: 14. Beau Scott 15. Kenny Edwards 16. Peni Terepo 17. Tony Williams 18. Cameron King 20. David Gower )
Team Updates: With squads reduced to 19 players the day before the game, it's more good news for Wests Tigers with Benji Marshall confirmed to play despite an ankle injury. Young gun Jacob Liddle also slots on to the bench in place of Matt McIlwrick for his first game of the year, while Tim Grant and Tui Lolohea remain as reserves. For the Eels, it's as program, with Marata Nuikore and Suaia Matagi dropping out.
Round 1 — Wests Tigers 10 def. Sydney Roosters 8
Round 2 — Wests Tigers 10 def. Melbourne Storm 8
Round 3 — Brisbane Broncos 9 def. Wests Tigers 7
Round 1 — Penrith Panthers 24 def. Parramatta Eels 14
Round 2 — Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 54 def. Parramatta Eels 0
Round 3 — Cronulla Sharks 14 def. Parramatta Eels 0
KEY MATCHUP — Matt Eisenhuth vs. Nathan Brown
One matchup you simply cannot look past this week is the battle of the locks between Matt Eisenhuth and Nathan Brown — two forwards are quickly climbing the NRL table for most running metres in 2018. Having both played every game in 2018, Brown (391m) narrowly edges Eisenhuth (352m) in this area as well as tackles (88 to 87) but it’s worth noting the added minutes the Eels forward has had. Since Elijah Taylor’s injury, Eisenhuth has been promoted to the run-on side and increased his work rate dramatically — making for an intriguing individual battle this Monday. Both capable of playing long stints and also contributing in the passing game, this battle won’t quite get the headlines of others on the day but whoever can get on top of their opponent will certainly go a long way to putting their team back in the winners circle.
Referees — Gerard Sutton and Gavin Reynolds
Touch Judges — Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski and Peter Gough
Review Officials — Ben Galea and Jarred Maxwell