Expect in-form Parramatta to grind out victory
Premier Sports, 10.50am Thursday
With only five more matches until the NRL playoffs, Parramatta Eels can all but guarantee a top-eight spot for the first time since 2009.
A run of five straight victories has got Eels fans dreaming of a first title in 31 years and with a run-in featuring games against four of the bottom five, Brad Arthur’s side have a great chance of not just making the eight but also securing a favourable route through the playoffs by finishing in the top four.
Parramatta have improved immeasurably from last season’s disappointing 14th-place finish and they begin their charge towards the finals against Canterbury in the opening match of round 22 hoping to build on last week’s 28-14 impressive triumph over Brisbane.
That contrasts with the ailing fortunes of Canterbury, a pale shadow of the side who have consistently challenged for honours in recent years.
Des Hasler’s Doggies have won only seven games and boast the dubious accolade of having the worst attack in the competition. In 19 NRL games they have posted a paltry 260 points at an average of just over 13 per game.
They fell a point shy of that average when the sides met five weeks ago with Parramatta gaining a hard-fought 13-12 victory - their third straight success over the Bulldogs.
It’s wise to expect another grind at ANZ Stadium with the last four meetings also failing to break the 32-point barrier.
On current form Parramatta certainly have the edge. The Eels are riding the crest of a wave and should be backed to secure a triumph by up to two converted scores.
And it may also pay to go low on points with bookmakers' 36.5-point line looking a little high given the recent history of this fixture and the Bulldogs' inability to get over the tryline regularly this season.
Eels to win by one to 12 points
2pts 9-5 Betfair
Under 36.5 points
2pts 4-6 BetBright, Paddy Power