NRL Eels vs Panthers

The Western Sydney derby kicks off NRL Round 4, which is a mini rivalry round. The Eels will look to not only win their first game of the 2023 season, but they will also look to get some revenge on the Panthers, after their 28-12 loss in last season’s Grand Final. This should be a cracking contest.

Draftstars has a $15,000 guaranteed contest for the first game of the round, with the winner set to pocket a cool $1,133. With several other contests available, there’s a contest for everyone, so get involved and make this game even more interesting.


Team News

The Eels welcome back Ryan Matterson from his suspension to play his first game of the season. Matterson replaces Matt Doorey in the back row, with Doorey moving to the bench. Jack Murchie misses out. Hooker Brendan Hands has been named to make his debut from the bench, replacing Jirah Momoisea, who’s pushed to the reserves list.

As for the Panthers, they welcome back bench middle Scott Sorensen from injury, with Matt Eisenhuth named as 18th man. No further changes are expected for the Premiers.

Betting Markets

Parramatta Eels ($3.25) vs Penrith Panthers ($1.35)

Points total – 39.5 points

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Match Overview

Both these teams appear to have taken a step back from last season, however the Panthers can at least lay claim to having a win to their names. It’s surely only a matter of time before the Eels get right, and the addition of Matterson to the forward pack will be a much-needed boost.

There’s a concern that the Eels’ defence might finally ignite something in this Panthers attack, that has so far struggled this season. The Eels have so far conceded 80 points in 3 games, the most in the NRL, and if they don’t figure it out soon, they may miss the finals altogether, much less make it back to the big dance.

Both teams should be up for this, and I’m feeling a low scoring game in which the Panthers sneak home 16-12.

Love It – Reuben Garrick - $17,850

Garrick has the highest ceiling, outside of Tom Trbojevic, in this matchup. He has a history of scoring tries against the Eels, scoring 3 in the Sea Eagles 56-10 romp over the Eels in 2021. Not only does he score tries, but Garrick doesn’t shirk his responsibility in making metres, running for 195 in round 1. Garrick also kicks goals, and is on the end of one of the most dynamic backlines in the NRL. Yes, he’s the most expensive OB in this slate, but he has a tremendous floor, even for a winger, and I believe he will eat against this poor Eels defence.

Love It – Daly Cherry-Evans - $22,500

I honestly don’t mind both halfbacks in this game, however I’ll be playing DCE based on the fact I see the Sea Eagles getting the job done here quite comfortably. In round 1, Cherry-Evans’ score was obviously inflated with the 3 tries, which he obviously isn’t getting every week. Despite this, I believe he will outplay Mitch Moses, who I was wrong about last week (although whose score was also inflated by his 2 tries). DCE doesn’t have a great history against the Eels, so this is more of a gut play than one driven in data, however I’ll stick by it.

Love It – J’maine Hopgood - $15,570

Draftstars has finally caught wind of how good the Eels’ number 13 is, pushing his value up around $1,700. I’m here to tell you, that isn’t nearly enough. Hopgood has broken out and after two weeks, looks like one of the best signings of the season. He’s averaging 77 minutes a game in the middle for the Eels, where he averages 52 tackles and 158.5 metres per game. And it’s not just the dirty work where Hopgood excels, he’s also thrown 9 offloads, and last week showed his attacking stats upside, creating 2 tries, whilst also running for a line break and creating a line break. Hopgood is legit, and should be closer to $18,000+ in my opinion.

Hate It – Jake Trbojevic - $18,120

I don’t see the upside here, with Trbojevic sitting as the 2nd most expensive forward in this slate. I say this, because Jake played 80 minutes in round 1 in the middle, whilst only managing 40.9 points. He made 33 tackles and ran for 119 metres, whilst producing zero other statistics. Granted, the Sea Eagles will more than likely have to play more defence than they did against the Bulldogs, so a 50-point score is likely for Jake, but for this salary I need upside. With the aforementioned Hopgood going for $2,550 less, the decision here is easy.

Hate It – Josh Hodgson - $13,950

There may be some players looking at a cheap option at HH this week looking at Hodgson, and I’ve got to say it’s a bad idea. Despite the price differences, I like the top 3 HHs in this slate in Cherry-Evans, Moses, and Brown, and would encourage players to find the cash to splurge on one of these 3 options. If you want a cheap option, look at the Sea Eagles hooker Lachlan Croker for only $350 more, or if looking at a FLEX option, I much prefer Josh Schuster, who is almost $3,000 cheaper.

Who Knows – Clinton Gutherson - $13,140

I’m not a massive fan of ‘King Gutho’ for Draftstars, but he’s always one of those guys that you are nervous about. With a nose for the try line, Gutherson is never far away from a 4-pointer or two, and he is an important link in the Eels backline. That said, he’s started the season with two sub-40 scores, despite two line-breaks and a line-break assist. Whilst he has a decent ceiling, he’s also a far better ‘eye test’ NRL player, than a fantasy prospect. He’s not priced as a superstar, however he’s so

Draftstars Suggested Lineup



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