Eels vs Dragons: Saints finals hopes to be tested

St George will be wary of an Eels side on the rise
The Dragons tackle an inform Eels side at ANZ Stadium in round 22 of the NRL (Getty Images)

Eels vs Dragons Preview & Betting Tips


The Eels will be intent on payback when they host the Dragons at ANZ Stadium. The Eels will enjoy the opportunity to derail the Dragon’s top-four ambitions.

Parramatta Eels


Jarryd Hayne has found some form late in the season but it may be a case of too little, too late. 

Brad Arthur has made a host of positional changes in a bid to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon. Hayne moves to the wing, with Corey Norman back at fullback and Clint Gutherson in the centres. 

The Eels have won two of their last three matches but will be found out against quality opposition this week.  

Jarryd Hayne shifts back to the wing for the must-win clash against the Dragons at ANZ Stadium (Getty Images)

St George Illawarra Dragons


Two consecutive losses have put a dent in the Dragons top-four hopes and the clash against the Eels comes at a dangerous time. 

The Dragons have a distinct advantage in the halves with Gareth Widdop and Bent Hunt. Hunt is up against Mitchell Moses and the former Bronco has been in decent tryscoring form, bagging a double in the loss to the Roosters.  

Eels second game rookie Jaeman Salmon faces a tough time against Widdop. The Dragons veteran is a points scoring machine and if their pack asserts their authority early then these two should be able to put the pressure on a brittle Eels defensive line.

Gareth Widdop lines-up opposite 2nd game rookie Jaeman Salmon (Getty Images)

Head-to-Head


These two sides have clashed 34 times with the Eels winning on 17 occasions to the Dragons 15 victories and 2 draws. The Eels were beaten 2018 when these two sides clashed at WIN Stadium in round 16.

Match Up


The Eels have the form at the moment but the Dragons are a quality side. The Dragons back row trio of Tyson Frizell, Tariq Sims and Jack DeBellin are averaging 336 meters per game. Hooker Cameron McInness has made 105 dummy half runs and second only to Damian Cook. 

The Dragons will rely on quick play the balls and their second row chewing up valuable metre through the middle of the park. 

Michael Jennings has defence has been suspect all season, with the veteran missing 46 tackles he will come under plenty of pressure of Euan Aitken. 

Key Statistics


  • The Eels have scored 15.7 points per match this season.
  • The Eels have only scored 20+ points three times since round 8.
  • The Dragons have averaged 23.6 points per match in attack.
  • Dragons half Gareth Widdop leads the NRL for points scored - 191.

Verdict 


The Dragons have lost their last two on the bounce but their class will shine through in their clash with the Eels. St George have the majority of the season at the top of the ladder and while they won’t win the minor premiership, they have a favourable run to the finals.

Parramatta may have improved over the last month but the Dragon’s forward superiority will be evident in this battle. I’m confidently backing the Dragons to blow away the cobwebs with a resounding victory at ANZ Stadium.

Handicap Bet: Dragons -6.5 @ 1.91 
Dan Gardner 08 August 2018

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