Parramatta need to beat the struggling Wests Tigers on Saturday if they are to keep alive hopes of securing an all-important place in the top four on the NRL ladder.
There is only one game to look forward to on Saturday, but there is plenty at stake, particularly for the Eels who need to hit winning form sooner rather than later.
They sit sixth on the ladder, two wins behind the Sharks in fourth but have played a game less. It is also tight behind them in the race for the eight so a victory against the Tigers is an absolute must for Brad Arthur’s side.
The Tigers have won just three games all season and will miss out on finals for an 11th straight campaign.
But there is still pride to play for and a strong end to the season could at least give the long-suffering fans some hope for the future. It could also boost interim coach Brett Kimmorley’s chances of landing the gig long-term.
Let’s take a closer look at both sides heading into the game.
What: Wests Tigers v Parramatta Eels
Where: Leichhardt Oval, Syndey
When: 19:35 (AEST), Saturday 9th July 2022
How to watch: Foxtel, Kayo
Odds: Tigers 16/5, Eels 23/100
Tigers in turmoil
The Tigers appear to be in turmoil on and off the pitch and are not looking in great shape heading into the game against the Eels.
They have lost the last four games on the bounce and just as worrying is the fact they have averaged just six points a game over the last three matches.
The Warriors thumped them 22-2 last week and it will take a huge upset to get one over on Parramatta on Saturday.
However it is not like they have not done that already this season. Back in round six the Tigers turned over the Eels on their own patch. A golden point drop goal by Jackson Hastings earned them a 21-20 win at CommBank Stadium.
The Tigers did the same to the Rabbitohs the week after and it was hoped that would be the catalyst for them to kick on and have a good season. However they have won just once since that game and coach Michael Maguire has since been sacked.
There has been no sign of improvement under Kimmorley and the Tigers have also failed to persuade Cameron Ciraldo to leave his assistant coaching role at Penrith to head to the joint venture.
Kimmorley also does not seem to know his best side. There has been a furore this week over the halves combination with the interim boss electing to stick with Jackson Hastings and Luke Brooks despite Adam Doueihi being fit again.
Doueihi has been named to play in the centres against the Eels. Reports claim he has requested to play in the reserves where he could play five-eighth.
There has also been talk of the football department, lead by Tim Sheens, weighing in with their thoughts on team selection. Kimmorley has denied that but clearly it is an unsteady Tigers ship heading into the Eels game.
The Tigers do have one piece of good news though as skipper James Tamou has recovered from a calf injury and will return to lead the side.
Eels need to find consistency
Parramatta have shown what they can do when they are at their best. Indeed they are the only team to beat the Penrith Panthers this season.
However they also have bad games in them that can strike at any time. It happened in round six when the Tigers won by a golden point. And again a few weeks ago when the struggling Bulldogs smashed them by 30 points.
Such capitulations could give the Tigers some hope and keep the Eels fans on their toes. They did bounce back well from the Bulldogs defeat to beat the Roosters, but then lost by 18 points against the Rabbitohs last week.
With a tough run-in to the regular season on the cards Parramatta need to find consistency quickly or their grand final hopes will be gone.
Anything other than a victory and the knives will be out for the Eels players and coach Brad Arthur.
They will be missing Junior Paulo for the game as he is with the New South Wales camp ahead of State of Origin, but are boosted by the return of Ryan Matterson who will play at lock after recovering from a rib injury.
Captain Clint Gutherson is also part of the NSW set up but will be allowed to lead the Eels against the Tigers.