James Tamou will look to continue his Origin form. Image courtesy of dailytelegraph.com.au, Picture: Getty Images
Parramatta Eels v North Queensland Cowboys
Friday June 6 – 7:45 PM (AEST)
Both teams need their stars - that is for sure and certain. The Parramatta Eels were atrocious on Friday night against the Penrith Panthers. Missing Origin star Jarryd Hayne in attack, they completed only 60% of their sets, showing no real threat in attack at all. The North Queensland Cowboys were in the same position two weeks ago when they were without their Origin stars. Johnathan Thurston will once again go up against Hayne after their epic encounter in Game 1 of the State of Origin.
Parra were very poor last Friday. A team which has been the surprise package this season regressed to some form of old against the Panthers. It wasn’t only attack which let them down. Defensively they were shocking, missing a total of 43 missed. These are disappointing stats for a team that's averaged just under 29 missed tackles per game before Friday night. To add insult to injury, pun intended, the season-ending injury to Nathan Peats is a huge blow for Parra. He has been one of their best, consistently playing 80 minutes and making over 40 tackles a game. He added extra punch up the middle which would get the Eels on the front foot. The only saving grace is the return of inspirational skipper Jarryd Hayne, who was rested for last week’s game. Luke Kelly comes into the No.9 jersey for Peats, with Ken Sio pushing back to the wing to accommodate for Hayne. Willie Tonga and Kenny Edwards return from injury, with Lee Mossop making his NRL debut for the suspended Mitchell Allgood.
Even if the Storm had the “Big 3” last Saturday, you still feel the Cowboys would have gotten the win. Not only were they so effective all over the park in attack, but not even leaking a point proves that defensively, they had the Storm's number. Matt Scott has been one of the Cowboys best for years, but as of late he has been the reason they have been winning games. While JT puts the finishing touches at the back end of the set, Scott’s punch through the middle is what creates that platform. The luxury for coach Paul Green is he can name an unchanged line-up, something that doesn’t happen often during the Origin period. Joel Riethmuller has been named as 18th man.
If the Hayne Plane can take off, this one will be a classic match. The Eels and the Cowboys always put on a show for the fans, and this one should be no different.