Parramatta Eels will look to get straight back to winning ways in the NRL when they host Newcastle Knights at Pirtek Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The Eels need to pick themselves up after a heavy loss last weekend against Melbourne Storm if they want to remain inside the top eight.
It is a sign of how much Parramatta have improved defensively that people were surprised they let in 40 points against the Storm, with thrashings occurring too frequently in 2013. One of those heavy defeats last year was against the Knights, who in fact have not lost against Parramatta since 2010. However, the Eels remain unbeaten at Pirtek Stadium in 2014 and will be confident of extending that excellent run on Sunday.
Mitch Allgood is available again after a two week suspension for a dangerous throw, while Chris Sandow managed to avoid a ban for his ill-advised questioning of a referee last week. Sandow owes his team a big performance as the three tries conceded during his ten minute spell in the sin-bin was effectively the difference between the Eels and Storm at the end of play.
Parramatta fans will also be looking for a big display from Jarryd Hayne after he looked to be shaking off the effects of Origin celebrations last weekend. The Eels are still missing Will Hopoate, Nathan Peats and Lee Mossop through injury. Young players have done well when called upon as replacements, but they need to start turning solid displays in to match winning efforts for their team.
The Knights broke their long losing streak last weekend with a first win in eight games. Wayne Bennett made some changes to his team with great effect, particularly the switch to halfback for Kurt Gidley. With Cronulla winning on Friday night Newcastle will be desperate to avoid slipping back to the foot of ladder at the end of the round.
Sunday 29th June, Pirtek Stadium Parramatta 15:00
Parramatta Eels v Newcastle Knights