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Eels v Warriors: Edwards stood down; Luke returns

Parramatta continue to slip further from finals contention, going down to the Bulldogs in last week's Indigenous Round to fall to a 2-8 record this season.

They will probably eventually look back on 2018 as a huge wasted opportunity and wonder how they went from a top four team in 2017 to an under-achieving mob of misfits in the space of six months.

Maybe that's too harsh on a team coach Brad Arthur said was in tears after the loss to the Dogs, but they stumbled out of the blocks with zero wins from their first six games and will be fighting a steep uphill battle for the rest of the season. The Eels only have themselves to blame.

The Warriors were cruising with a 7-2 record before last week's 32-0 thumping from the Roosters. They clearly missed Issac Luke and Shaun Johnson and it'll be interesting to see how they bounce back against the Eels.

Injuries haven't been kind to the over-achieving Warriors, but they continue to defy the odds as they push for a top-eight finish nobody saw coming in the pre-season. 

Eels v Warriors - Round 11

Key match-up: Parra fullback Clint Gutherson didn't hide the fact he was in tears after last week's loss to the Bulldogs, candidly telling reporters he was to blame after his late-game in-goal blunder allowed the Dogs to score a match-winning try. On Friday he is up against one of the best fullbacks around in Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and you can bet 'Gutho' will be looking to atone with a big game for the struggling Eels.

For the Eels to win: If they hadn't already hit rock bottom with no wins from their first six games, the last-placed Eels are now officially in a position where the only way is up. Somehow coach Brad Arthur has to find the right words to drag this team off the canvas. Five-eighth Corey Norman needs to start playing to his potential on a weekly basis.

For the Warriors to win: For a team with seven wins from 10 games, the Warriors have copped two of the heaviest beatings this season. They bounced back well from the 50-10 flogging from Melbourne a few weeks ago and are in the same situation this week after being caned 32-0 by the Roosters. They should find a few more holes in Parra's defence than they did last week and will be counting on a good kicking game from NSW Origin candidate Blake Green.

Eels stat attack: Parra have had to do more defensive work than any other team this season, making 3477 total tackles. Newcastle are second with 3421. Four teams have worse defensive records than the Eels (226 points conceded): the Titans (267), Knights (261), Sea Eagles (247) and Broncos (242).

Warriors stat attack: The Warriors were off their game in last week's thrashing, making zero line breaks and running for 240 metres less than the Roosters. The Warriors are third on the Telstra Premiership ladder but six teams have scored more points. A more worrying sign for coach Stephen Kearney is that the Warriors have conceded more points than any other team in the top eight.

And another thing: Let's hope for Parra's sake that they aren't out of the game by half-time, because the last thing they need is to hear boos raining down from the stands. The Eels have some of the most passionate and appreciative fans in the NRL, but they are a win-starved bunch right now and patience is wearing thin.

Parramatta Eels v New Zealand Warriors, Friday 6pm at ANZ Stadium

Eels: 1 Clint Gutherson (c), 2 Bevan French, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Brad Takairangi, 5 George Jennings, 6 Corey Norman, 7 Mitchell Moses, 8 Daniel Alvaro, 9 Cameron King, 10 Peni Terepo, 11 Beau Scott (c), 12 Tepai Moeroa, 13 Manu Ma'u

Interchange: 14 Will Smith, 15 Suaia Matagi, 16 David Gower, 17 Marata Niukore

The Eels are 1-17 and aiming for just their third win in 11 games. Kenny Edwards was stood down this week pending a court appearance for a traffic violation. Cameron King replaces Will Smith at hooker. Manu Ma'u swaps to lock with Beau Scott who moves to second row. Marata Niukore has been named to make his debut in jersey 17. Josh Hoffman and Siosaia Vave were cut an hour before kick-off, while Jaeman Salmon and Raymond Stone were omitted from the squad on Thursday night.

Warriors: 3 Peta Hiku, 2 David Fusitu'a, 18 Gerard Beale 4 Solomone Kata, 5 Ken Maumalo, 6 Blake Green, 7 Mason Lino, 16 James Gavet, 9 Issac Luke, 10 Agnatius Paasi, 16 Isaiah Papali'i, 12 Tohu Harris, 13 Adam Blair

Interchange: 8 Bunty Afoa, 14 Jazz Tevaga, 15 Chris Satae, 17 Simon Mannering

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is out, with Peta Hiku shifted to fullback and Gerard Beale elevated from the reserves to a starting centre role. Issac Luke (shoulder) returns at hooker with Karl Lawton dropped from the reserves an hour before kick-off. Mason Lino has been named at halfback despite injuring an ankle last week. Albert Vete and Anthony Gelling were omitted 24 hours out from game time.

Head-to-head: Played 38; Eels 21 wins, Warriors 17 wins
Matches at venue: Played 1; Eels 1 win
2017 results: Warriors won 22-10 at Mt Smart Stadium in round 6; Eels won 32-24 at ANZ Stadium in round 13
Points per game: Eels 14.6; Warriors 19.8
Points conceded per game: Eels 22.6; Warriors 19
Televised: Live on Fox League

Steve Turner’s prediction: Parramatta were their own worst enemy last weekend in their loss to the Bulldogs after failing to capitalise on a number of chances, which has them now sitting on the bottom of the NRL ladder. The Warriors were poor in the loss to the Roosters after failing to score a point and it’s a concern for Stephen Kearney’s men because two of their three losses this year have come in the past three weeks against genuine title contenders who have scored 82 points collectively against them. The Eels are desperate and need a win for any hope of playing in September, while the Warriors will be hoping for the return of Shaun Johnson and Issac Luke.

Tip: Eels by 4

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The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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