Both teams will be striving to remain unbeaten when the Dragons and Eels do battle to wind up Round 2 of the NRL.
The Dragons produced the biggest upset of the opening round when crushing the Panthers 42-10 at Kogarah Oval, not only bettering one of the competition favourites but racking up 42 points for the first time since late 2015.
Parramatta’s win wasn’t so much of a surprise as they appeared to be in cruise control for a long way in getting out of Lottoland with a 20-12 win.
HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS
Much has been made of the misfiring Dragons attack last season which ranked them 15th in the competition and barely in front of the lowly Knights.
Despite that their home record was actually one of the better in the NRL (8-4) and easily the best of those sides that didn’t qualify for the top 8. That home form came to the surface last week at Kogarah when they touched up Penrith.
With another home game here can we expect much of the same from Stgeorge Illawarra? They won three of four in Wollongong last season with only the Broncos getting the better of them (by four points). Overall they have won six of eight there in recent seasons with the other team escaping there with the points being the Cowboys.
Parramatta were very tradesman-like last week against Manly.
Corey Norman was influential in the Eels’ success at Brookvale and he will once again be dictating the play here against the Dragons.
Beginning the season on a full head of steam isn’t something Parramatta has done too often though, having not gone back-to-back to start a campaign since 1999. One interesting stat is that with the Blue and Golds playing consecutive road games to start 2017, they did win their first three away games last season and five of the first six.
The Eels have had the wood on the Dragons in recent times by winning the past four contests with three of those being at Pirtek and the other at ANZ Stadium.
Two of those wins were by narrow margins and the other two by double figures with the average over this span being 14 points. Fancy the Eels getting the job done by more than 13? You can have $3.75 with bet365.
When focusing on games where the Dragons are at home at either Kogarah or Wollongong, the advantage shifts towards them.
It would be awfully tempting to take the Dragons at the value ($2.20 on Betfair) considering what we saw last week against a genuine premiership contender.
Coach Paul Mcgregor appears to have overhauled the Stgeorge Illawarra attack with Gareth Widdop playing his best game for a long time, ably assisted by Josh McCrone and Cameron McInnes. They were able to work with space after the big Dragons pack set a solid platform.
If Stgeorge Illawarra set the benchmark for run metres again (1736) then the Eels defence will be hard pressed to keep them at bay.
If coach Brad Arthur was able to salvage something from last season it was their defensive efforts. Despite having points taken off them their defence was one of the best in the competition and that was proven again last week.
We think this will be a tight one but although the Dragons were impressive last week, this game will show just how far they have improved.
MATCH WINNER TIP: PARRAMATTA
FIRST TRYSCORER: BEVAN FRENCH – has only played the Dragons once but recorded a hat-trick on that occasion
MARGIN BETTING: PARRAMATTA 1-12
Other tip: ANYTIME TRYSCORER – GARETH WIDDOP. He ended up with two tries last week