Schick Hydro Preview: Sydney Roosters v Parramatta Eels
The horrors of 2016 are a distant memory for the Roosters and Eels who have jumped out of the blocks to be well entrenched in the Telstra Premiership top eight after nine rounds.
The Roosters sit in a four-way tie for second but could have found themselves just a win behind pacesetters the Storm had it not been for a late Shaun Johnson penalty goal in their last-start loss across the ditch.
A four-game losing streak threatened to derail Parramatta's campaign but they have since steadied the ship with wins over the Tigers, Panthers and Cowboys.
Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell replaces Shaun Kenny-Dowall (who has been stood down) while Mitchell Aubusson regains his starting spot in the back row, pushing Aidan Guerra to the bench.
Eels coach Brad Arthur has made no changes to the side that won in Townsville.
Why the Roosters can win: It might not be as intimidating a venue as suburban grounds such as Leichhardt Oval or Lottoland, but the Roosters have been able to turn Allianz Stadium into a fortress whenever they face the Eels.
Parramatta have struggled at the Moore Park precinct with five straight losses – two of those against the Tigers – while they've lost their past three against the Roosters by a combined score of 134-22.
Why the Eels can win: When Parramatta's left edge is on, there isn't a defensive unit out there capable of stopping the likes of Corey Norman, Michael Jennings and Semi Radradra.
The trio are all ranked in the club's top four for line breaks, Jennings and Norman are first and second for tackle breaks,
Radradra and Norman are top three for tries scored while the trio have combined for nine try assists.
If the Parramatta forwards can win the midfield battle then expect some carnage out on the left flank.
KEY MATCH-UP | MITCHELL PEARCE V COREY NORMAN
4 | TRY ASSISTS | 4
5 | LINE BREAK ASSISTS | 2
116 | TOTAL KICKS | 98
5 | LINE BREAKS | 5
The history: Played 129; Roosters 62: Eels 62; Drawn 5.
The Tricolours have dominated this match-up in recent times with Trent Robinson's men claiming seven wins from their past 10 matches against the Eels.
Parramatta have won two of the past three meetings, but two of those were at Pirtek Stadium.
Match officials: Referee: Grant Atkins. Assistant referee: Gavin Reynolds. Sideline officials: Chris Butler and Rohan Best.
Televised: Channel 9 – Live coverage from 3:30pm. Fox Sports 2 – Live coverage from 4pm.
NRL.com predicts: This shapes as a classic four-point game that has plenty of top eight implications with teams near them on the ladder also facing off this weekend.
The Roosters can jump into the top four with a win while the Eels would likely surrender their spot in the top half with a loss.
This should be toss-of-the-coin affair, but we'll lean towards the home team in a tight one.
Roosters by 4
This article first appeared on NRL.COM