There are only six rounds left in the regular season and the Parramatta Eels vs Sydney Roosters is an extremely important game.
Thursday’s clash between top-five teams could have a bearing on the playoff picture, but that picture looks brighter for the Eels.
Sydney has endured a shocking run of injuries, so it will need to call upon its championship qualities to stay in the mix.
Online betting markets have the Eels as favorites, but they’re expecting a close game.
Eels Suffer Slip-Up
The Eels look to rebound following a disappointing 12-10 loss to the Canberra Raiders. It was a poor display from a team that had looked like a potential premiership contender in the first 18 weeks.
Scoring just 10 points for this offense-minded outfit wasn’t a good showing, but class is permanent and we expected much better against the Roosters.
Parramatta currently sits in fourth position on the NRL ladder, so winning is important. Securing a top-four spot ensures a home semifinal, so keeping teams like the Roosters at bay is a huge advantage in September.
The Eels played defensive rugby last week, so expect the ball to be thrown around more freely.
“We probably didn’t play enough footy out of our end of the field,” prop Junior Paulo told NRL.com. “We didn’t play too bad to actually lose the game but I think certain key moments let us down and we didn’t capitalize on. Last week’s performance was more just us getting dragged into the way Canberra were playing.
“We tried to play a power game. Rather than running into four or five guys who are waiting there to bash you. I think it’s better for us to find a pass and move the ball around,” Paolo added. “Brad (Arthur) gives us a license to play footy, it’s more just us looking up. Fatigue plays a factor when you just need a hit-up. We have the onus on us just to play eyes-up footy.
“For us, (this week) we’ll stick to our power game but then we’re going to obviously try and find some flaws in their game.”
When you have players like Maika Sivo on the wing, the ball needs to be shifted. We expect the Eels to play more expansive league this week and there is value in rugby betting markets.
They are only -4½-point favorites, which is a lower line than we expected against an injury-depleted Roosters.
Can Roosters Survive?
Losing one player can derail a team, but the injury toll for the Sydney Roosters is nearing astronomical levels.
Not only have they lost Brett Morris and captain Boyd Cordner to injury-enforced retirement, but last week’s win over the Knights came at a cost. Billy Smith, Matt Ikuvalu and Marata Niukore were all injured in the win, which adds to the likes of Victory Radley, Luke Keary and Lindsay Collins on the injured list.
— Sydney Roosters 🐓 (@sydneyroosters) July 26, 2021
The Roosters were able to muster enough spirit to beat Newcastle in Round 19, but it’s always tough to measure up the following week. Players will have to switch positions and it will give coach Trent Robinson a headache.
Given the amount of injuries the Roosters have suffered, we’re surprised they’re not bigger underdogs. Rugby league bookmakers are taking into account their will to win and their championship qualities, but it should start to take its toll soon.
Heading into the playoffs without your key players is no position to be in, so scoring a win over the Eels on Thursday is important. If the Roosters struggle over the next few weeks, they could fall from fifth in the blink of an eye. Luckily, they have an eight-point advantage over the eighth team, so a place in the finals should be secured.
However, it’s a tough run home for the Roosters. They play the Eels, Panthers, Broncos, Dragons, Rabbitohs and Raiders over the last six weeks. That’s not an easy stretch and it’s harder without a full roster.
When They Last Met
It was one-way traffic for the Eels when they played the Roosters in Round Nine. Parramatta won 31-18 on the back of a double from Bryce Cartwright in the 28th and 31st minute.
Padding a six-point halftime lead, the Eels were able to score with Tom Opacic just after halftime. Dylan Brown added a try in the 76th minute to make the score look more impressive.
Ikuvalu scored three tries for the Roosters. He was their standout player, so he will be sorely missed after suffering a leg injury last week.
Eels vs Roosters Pick
The Eels are -175 favorites in moneyline markets, but the value comes in the point spread markets.
We’re more than happy to take the Eels -4½, which is a favorable line for bettors. They are the better team and they’re keen to turnaround a poor performance in Round 19.
Injuries will start to take their toll for the Roosters and their defense has cracked on numerous occasions, so the Eels could have a field day.
If the Eels can score 31 points again, they should win the game by double digits.
Pick: Parramatta Eels -4½ (-120)