Parramatta Eels host St George Illawarra Dragons on Saturday afternoon with the sides coming into the game on the back of contrasting fortunes. The Eels picked up a third win in five games last weekend, while the Dragons slumped to fifth defeat in six.
It is still not clear if Benji Marshall will make his debut for the Dragons. He was not named in the squad earlier in the week but that is subject to change until shortly before kick-off. Last week we described how three wins to open the 2014 season seemed like a distant memory for the Dragons. Now it is hard to make any kind of connection between the team then and now. They do at least get Jason Nightingale back from injury this week should Marshall not be included.
Conceding 36 points to the Bulldogs last weekend was disappointing for the Dragons, but was made worse by their inability to score more than once themselves. It looks as though they need the spark of energy that even just the presence of Marshall can bring to breathe life into their season.
There were no such attacking problems for the Eels in their thrashing of Cronulla on Monday night. Jarryd Hayne and Chris Sandow in particular are looking sharp in 2014. Sandow is a changed man on and off the field this year, and with a team working well around him some of his courageous plays are beginning to pay off.
Such has been the form of young players given a chance this season by Brad Arthur, established regulars like Fuifui Moimoi are currently restricted to appearances in the NSW Cup. The Eels are also turning Pirtek Stadium into something of a fortress having yet to be defeated on home turf in 2014.
Saturday 17th May, Pirtek Stadium Parramatta 15:00