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NRL: Eels and Broncos set for major Darwin dust-up

The NRL heads to Darwin on Friday night with Parramatta Eels and Brisbane Broncos going head-to-head in a mouthwatering clash at TIO Stadium.

The Broncos continue to set the pace at the top of the NRL ladder, but their premiership credentials are set for another test against the Eels.

Parramatta have been hit and miss so far this season, but after winning their last two games, they should be full of confidence heading into the game.

There is still plenty of work for Brad Arthur’s side to do, however, as they sit 12th on the ladder after seven games played.

Despite the big gap between these two sides on the ladder, it could be a closely-fought encounter and one to excite the locals in Darwin.

Brisbane need to win to stay clear at the top, while the Eels need the victory to stay in finals contention.

WhatParramatta Eels v Brisbane Broncos
WhereTIO Stadium, Darwin
When20:00 (AEST), Friday 21st April, 2023
How to watchChannel 9, Foxtel, Kayo
OddsParramatta Eels 2.15, Brisbane Broncos 1.72

Eels target three in a row

Parramatta got their season off to a shaky start when losing their opening three games of the season, casting doubt over their chances of playing finals football this season.

It would be a dramatic fall from grace after they made the grand final last season before losing to the Penrith Panthers, but they have lost a number of key players.

The signs are there however that they are finally starting to find their form with a 28-22 win over Wests Tigers, and then a comfortable 30-4 victory over Canterbury Bulldogs.

They will face a much sterner test against the Broncos and if they can get over the line then a revival really will be on.

Playing in Darwin away from home is another test they will have to overcome, and it did not go well last season.

They were hammered 35-4 by the North Queensland Cowboys at TIO Stadium and would prefer to remember a fixture back in 2021 when they put a big score on the Broncos.

It was a completely different Broncos outfit on that occasion though and we should be in for a tighter game in 2023.

Their record in Darwin is strong and they have won six out of the last eight games. Maika Sivo also likes the venue after scoring a hat-trick against the Broncos in 2021.

He is also in great touch at the moment - scoring a brace against the Bulldogs last weekend.

The winger can be backed at 1.95 to score a try at anytime on Friday night.

Parramatta have also been handed a big boost with the news that hooker Josh Hodgson has recovered from the illness that kept him out of the Bulldogs game, and he will start against the Broncos.

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Broncos sitting pretty

The Broncos sit top of the ladder with six wins from the opening seven games and will be delighted with the way they bounced back after suffering their only defeat against the Canberra Raiders two weeks ago.

The Gold Coast Titans were put to the sword 43-26, and the win showed the Broncos are up for the fight this season.

Even so, coach Kevin Walters will still be concerned with the amount of points his side concede and that is something they need to put right.

There are heaps of positives though and new fullback Reece Walsh was electrifying against the Titans last week, while Payne Haas also continues to shine.

Attacking-wise they are at the top of their game and Kotoni Staggs is leading the way in the try-scoring stakes. The talented centre has six to his name already this season and is priced at 2.90 to score anytime against the Eels.

Second-rower Jordan Riki has also scored four tries in his last three games and can be backed at 3.60.

The Broncos are boosted by the return of Corey Oats, who has not played since round two after suffering a broken jaw.

Prop Thomas Flegler is also back in the 17 after recovering from concussion, but Walters will have to decide whether or not to change a winning side.

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