The Panthers might need a little 'Dreamtime' spiritual luck to help lift them out of the doldrums in this Indigenous Round clash with the Eels.

Six losses in a row, with four clubs scoring 30 points or more, means defence has not been uppermost within the Panthers den. Ivan Cleary's men have scored 88 points in the last six rounds but conceded 166.

The Eels are on a five-day turnaround after a disappointing seven-point loss to the Cowboys in Townsville. Hooker Reed Mahoney might need a little more time to recover after he made 61 tackles in the tropics.

Match: Eels v Panthers

Round 11 -

Full Time
Eels

Home Team

Eels

Scored 10 points
Panthers

Away Team

Panthers

Scored 16 points

Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Sydney

Match broadcasters:

  • Nine Network
  • Foxtel
  • LIVE PASS

The Rundown

Team news

Eels: Parramatta are 1-17, with Kane Evans and Jaeman Salmon dropping off the extended bench on Thursday. Tim Mannah is back in the starting lineup, as is Maika Sivo. Blake Ferguson has been named in the centres, while George Jennings moves from right to left wing. Tepai Moeroa will miss a week due to concussion protocol. David Gower is a new face on the bench. Bevan French and Oregon Kaufusi were the players to drop out of the squad on Wednesday night.

Panthers: Tim Grant starts at prop with Reagan Campbell-Gillard to come off the bench, while Mitchell Kenny will make his debut via the interchange in place of Liam Martin. Josh Mansour is back on the right wing, while Brian To'o switches to the left wing in place of Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. Jarome Luai comes in for suspended five-eighth James Maloney, Frank Winterstein will start in the back-row, while James Fisher-Harris moves from back-rower to lock. Hame Sele and Kaide Ellis dropped off the reserves list 24 hours before kick-off.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Eels is number 1 Clinton Gutherson
    Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
  • Winger for Eels is number 2 Maika Sivo
    Winger for Panthers is number 2 Josh Mansour
  • Centre for Eels is number 3 Josh Hoffman
    Centre for Panthers is number 3 Dean Whare
  • Centre for Eels is number 4 Blake Ferguson
    Centre for Panthers is number 4 Waqa Blake
  • Winger for Eels is number 5 George Jennings
    Winger for Panthers is number 5 Brian To'o
  • Five-Eighth for Eels is number 6 Will Smith
    Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome Luai
  • Halfback for Eels is number 7 Mitchell Moses
    Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan Cleary

Forwards

  • Prop for Eels is number 8 Junior Paulo
    Prop for Panthers is number 8 James Tamou
  • Hooker for Eels is number 9 Reed Mahoney
    Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Sione Katoa
  • Prop for Eels is number 10 Tim Mannah
    Prop for Panthers is number 16 Tim Grant
  • 2nd Row for Eels is number 11 Shaun Lane
    2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
  • 2nd Row for Eels is number 12 Marata Niukore
    2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Frank Winterstein
  • Lock for Eels is number 13 Manu Ma'u
    Lock for Panthers is number 13 James Fisher-Harris

Interchange

  • Interchange for Eels is number 14 Peni Terepo
    Interchange for Panthers is number 10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
  • Interchange for Eels is number 15 Daniel Alvaro
    Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Tyrell Fuimaono
  • Interchange for Eels is number 16 Brad Takairangi
    Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Moses Leota
  • Interchange for Eels is number 17 David Gower
    Interchange for Panthers is number 18 Mitchell Kenny

Key match-up

Props James Tamou and Junior Paulo bring too vastly different body shapes but a wealth of power and velocity. Tamou has 14 tackle breaks this year, Paulo has 11, and they are both averaging 12 hit-ups a game. The starts by these two will go a long way to determining which team gets the upper hand early. 

For the Eels to win

They need to firm up that defensive line. Certainly the 54-point loss to Storm in round nine was not pretty with 12 line-breaks and 51 tackle-busts to Craig Bellamy's men. But against the more lowly Cowboys, at least in terms of NRL ladder position, the Eels still made just 12 tackle breaks to the Cowboys 29.

For the Panthers to win

They need to find the shop that sells 'confidence' and buy the family-size packet for each of their players to consume. They are the worst in the NRL for missed tackles - 402 after 10 rounds. But in contrast, the Panthers lead the competition in engaging the line. So they need their middles and edges to penetrate it, to give their outside backs the chance to do their stuff. 

Brett Kimmorley says

The Penrith Panthers have probably hit rock bottom and it'll be interesting to see what team Ivan Cleary puts together and how they perform. The battle of the west should inspire them this week. It'll be interesting to see how Nathan Cleary plays with the NSW No.7 jersey up for grabs. Parramatta have to learn to play a little smarter. They played well last week but couldn't get the result, and there will be pressure on Mitchell Moses to manage the game plan, when the contest is on the line. Eels by 6.

Stat Attack

The Eels are running third in the NRL, behind the Roosters and Rabbitohs, in terms of try assists, and they're also equal third with South Sydney in line break assists.

And another thing ...

Parramatta forwards Manu Ma'u and Tepai Moeroa are on track to both play their 100th games, but Moeroa will need to pass concussion protocols after a head knock against the Cowboys.