NRL Grand Final 2022: Parramatta Eels Preview

36 years after they last won a Premiership, the Eels are into the Grand Final. In a battle of the west, they’ll take on the reigning Premiers and best team in the league in the Panthers, and will need to be at their absolute best if they’re to cause an upset. As they’ve shown this year, however, when they do play at their best they are mighty difficult to stop, but they haven’t displayed that every week. In this article, we’ll take a look at the journey of this electric Eels outfit to the Grand Final, how it is that they’ve got there, and who needs to play well for them to bring a Premiership back to Parramatta for the first time since 1986.


Parramatta Eels Journey To The Grand Final

After three consecutive semi-finals appearances, the Eels started the season with hopes they could take things to the next level in 2022, and when they won four of their first five games that seemed very much on the cards. In Round 6, however, they suffered a surprise loss to the Tigers, a disappointing performance which would ultimately become something of a trend over the course of the season. Two weeks later they threw in another shocker, going down 35-4 to the Cowboys, while a few weeks after that the lowly Bulldogs beat them 34-4. By the end of the season they’d added a 36-14 loss to the Broncos and a 26-0 defeat at the hands of the Rabbitohs into the mix, but fortunately, when they did turn up to play they were winning nearly every game. After that loss to the Bunnies they won consecutive games by 36 and 47 points in Rounds 23 and 24, and when they beat the Storm in Round 25 they jumped into the top four and earned a double chance.

That win also meant they had to face the Panthers in Penrith in a qualifying final, and though they were competitive in the first half they were ultimately comfortably overrun and lost by 19 points. The next week, however, they bounced back in kind against an in-form Raiders team, beating them 40-4 to advance into a preliminary final against the Cowboys. With 25 minutes to go in that one, their chances of making the season decider seemed slim; but after trailing by eight points at that stage they scored back to back tries to make their way into their first Grand Final since 2009.

Eels Team News

Tom Opacic will occupy plenty of discussion over the coming days as he attempts to recover from a hamstring injury in time to take to the field on Grand Final Day. Elsewhere, utility Bryce Cartwright has been dropped for Nathan Brown in a move which has surprised many given that he hasn’t played at the level since Round 17. 

NRL Grand Final Preview – Eels Perspective

The Eels being in the Grand Final is a significant enough talking point in and of itself, even without looking at how they managed to get there. This is the first time they’ve played in one in 13 years, but more significantly, if they win it will be the first time that they have won a Premiership in 36. That drought is the longest in the NRL and occupies more than its fair share of discussion, though the Eels, as expected, have batted off any talk of that monkey on their back as irrelevant. And it’s easy to see their point; the side that has worked its way into the 2022 Grand Final bears no resemblance to that 30, 20 or even ten years ago.



This is a team which has plenty of offensive talent, and against the best defence in the league that’s where they’ll need to make their mark if they’re to win this game. Parramatta scored the fifth most points in the league this year, but that’s factoring in a number of the aforementioned shockers in which they struggled to get on the board. When they actually played like the team which has shown up the past couple of weeks, they are very difficult to stop.

Parramatta sits second in the league in set completion at 80% – behind only the Panthers – while they also lead the league in post contact metres – this time just ahead of the Panthers. They have no qualms taking a risk with ball in hand, leading the league by some margin for offloads, plenty of which have led to try assists – a stat which they also lead all-comers in. When they’re at their best, they’re a quality side to watch and one which can pose problems even for the best defence in the league – which they demonstrated by putting up 34 points against the Panthers in late July.

Where there is cause for concern, however, is in their tendency for errors, as well as their tendency to give up scores. The Eels are fourth in the league in errors this season with 277, and while this is inevitable given the aggressive way they play, they can’t afford to make too many mistakes against a side like the Panthers. They’ll also need to be better than they often have been this year defensively; Parramatta conceded more points than any other side in the top eight, and given the Panthers aren’t likely to concede a big score, the Eels will need to lock in defensively too.

Eels Predicted Line Up

  1. Clinton Gutherson
  2. Maika Sivo
  3. Will Penisini
  4. Bailey Simonsson
  5. Waqa Blake
  6. Dylan Brown
  7. Mitchell Moses
  8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
  9. Reed Mahoney
  10. Junior Paulo
  11. Shaun Lane
  12. Isaiah Papali’i
  13. Ryan Matterson


  1. Nathan Brown
  2. Jake Arthur
  3. Oregon Kaufusi
  4. Marata Niukore

Players To Watch

There are plenty who will need to play well if the Eels are to upset the Panthers, but Mitchell Moses might be the most significant of them. The opposing number of the reigning Clive Churchill Medallist and the man widely tipped to do it again in Nathan Cleary, Moses will need to play at his absolute best to match the Panthers’ number seven. The 28-year-old has been excellent this year; he’s second in the league in points and leads the league in try assists with 23, and if his side is to win then he will most likely be a major reason why.

Parramatta Eels Stats

The Eels lead the league in post contact metres, with Reagan Campbell-Gillard their best exponent of the stat; he’s behind only the Raiders’ Joseph Tapine for the most in the league. 

Parramatta also leads all-comers for total run metres, sitting just ahead of their opponents this weekend.

Mitchell Moses has the most try assists in the league, with 23 over the course of the season.

Parramatta Eels Record In Grand Finals

This will be the tenth Grand Final that the Eels have played in throughout their history. Their record so far is four wins, five losses, with those wins coming in quick succession in 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1986. They haven’t played in a Grand Final since 2009, 

Eels Head To Head vs Panthers

The Panthers might have been the better team this year, but the Eels have a strong overall record against their Grand Final opponents. The two sides have played one another 106 times, with 60 of those games being won by the Eels, 45 by the Panthers, and one being drawn.

Betting Markets

Eels to win outright – $3.25

Eels +8.5 – $1.90

Mitchell Moses to win the Clive Churchill Medal – $7.50

Parramatta Eels to score under 14.5 points – $1.79



NRL Grand Final: Eels Tips and Predictions

Parramatta Eels to score under 14.5 points @ $1.79 – If the Eels manage to cause an upset and break their 36-year drought in the process it will be a terrific story, but they are going to have their work cut out getting through the Panthers defence. Penrith are and have been the best defence in the league for three years, and even though they were already the hardest team to score against in the home and away season they’ve taken it to another level in the finals. Against Parramatta in the qualifying final they conceded just eight points, while the Rabbitohs scored 12 early against them last week and then didn’t score again. It’s a big ask for the Eels to get to 15.

Parramatta Eels +4.5 first half @ $1.80 – The Panthers should realistically be too good in this game, but if the Eels are going to match them it’s most likely going to be early. They’ll come out swinging, and despite the fact that Penrith is the better side, the Eels can at least keep it close for the first half. That’s exactly what happened in the qualifying final; though the Panthers ended up running out 27-8 winners, they didn’t break the shackles until the second half. At half-time the score was just 7-6 in Penrith’s favour, and a similar result might unfold this time around.


**Odds quoted are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change.