A huge game kicks off the final round of the regular NRL season with the winner of Parramatta versus Melbourne Storm set to take fourth spot on the ladder heading into finals.
It does not get much bigger as a place in the top four boosts your chances of going all the way and winning the premiership as you get two bites of the cherry in finals, so the pressure will be on at Commbank Stadium, Sydney.
Melbourne currently hold fourth spot but are locked on 32 points with the fifth-placed Eels so it is a straight shoot-out for a place in the top four.
The Eels do have home advantage but they have been turned over by lesser opposition at Commbank this season, while the Storm have picked up some big wins on the road and will hold no fear.
It has been a season of mixed results for both sides this season and Thursday night’s clash is too close to call.
If both side bring their A-game to the party, we could be in for a classic so let’s take a closer look at both sides heading into the game.
What: Parramatta Eels v Melbourne Storm
Where: Commbank Stadium, Sydney
When: 19:50 (AEST) Thursday 1st September 2022
How to watch: Channel 9, Foxtel, Kayo
Odds: Eels 20/21, Storm 87/100
The Eels have shown what they are capable of when they perform at their best after beating Penrith Panthers on two occasions this season.
However they have also thrown in some poor performances to cast doubt over their premiership credentials. Wests Tigers and Canterbury Bulldogs have beaten Brad Arthur’s side in what has been an up and down campaign.
Out of 10 games at Commbank this season, the Eels have won seven of them.
They could also be peaking at just the right time and a place in the top-four will see the momentum continue to build.
The 26-0 home loss against the South Sydney Rabbitohs in round 22 was a big concern but they have since bounced back well with two victories on the spin.
The manner in which they thrashed the Brisbane Broncos 53-6 at Suncorp Stadium last week will give the Eels faithful plenty of hope heading into the Storm clash.
Mitchell Moses’ return to the side has been crucial and the star playmaker will be key to Parramatta’s chances of not only beating Melbourne, but also going deep into finals.
Moses leads the way with try-assists in the NRL this season when chipping in with 22. He also has 14 line break assists and has been in dazzling form since returning from a finger injury.
His showdown against Storm ace Jahrome Hughes in the halves battle could decide which way this game goes.
Parramatta are boosted by the news they have no fresh injury worries and will name the same side that demolished the Broncos. They can also take heart from the fact they beat Melbourne 28-24 on their own patch way back in round three.
Melbourne Storm looked to be back in top gear after picking up four wins on the bounce to end a run of four straight defeats.
Among those victories was an impressive 16-0 win over the Penrith Panthers, before they smashed the Brisbane Broncos 60-12 at Suncorp Stadium the week after.
However Craig Bellamy’s men were stopped in their tracks as they slipped to an 18-14 defeat in a fierce battle with the Sydney Roosters last week.
Now they have to pick themselves up and go again in a huge game against the Eels. But as they showed against the Panthers they can get the job done in tough circumstances away from Melbourne.
Out of 11 games away from home this season, Melbourne have won seven of them.
Any side that has Cameron Munster in their ranks has a chance of victory and if the star playmaker is on song then the Storm will fancy their chances of winning. It will be interesting to see if he plays in the halves or stays at fullback, where he has been very effective recently.
The Storm have been hit by the news that Tom Eisenhuth’s season is over after he suffered a syndesmosis injury in the defeat against the Roosters.
Felise Kaufusi returns to the Storm starting side, while Joel King has been named to play at lock, with Brandon Smith on the bench. However Bellamy could of course switch things about on game-day.
Jahrome Hughes was on fire in the defeat against the Roosters and will be crucial to Melbourne’s chances of beating the Eels.