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Coaching The Coaches - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Sat, 09 Jun 2007 11:01:00 GMT
The GRL Phantom saw the Eels play live for the first time and was suitably impressed on Monday night when they belted the Tigers 38-8.

On Sunday I will give my unbiased report card at the halfway mark of the premiership.

I believe the Eels will prevail although their record at Canberra is poor, just four wins from 13 games in the nation's capital, with the Raiders having won nine clashes.

Last year however was the exception. The Eels defeated the Raiders 18-12 in Canberra yet lost 30-10 at Parramatta Stadium.

Eels

Strengths:

Fast all over the ground, the Eels have genuine strike-power and have players who can score long distance tries and this year have scored 14 of their 48 tries from inside their own half.

They do play this match without Jarryd Hayne and Nathan Hindmarsh who will play for NSW next Wednesday against Queensland.

But they still have Luke Burt on deck who is in career-best form.

He is playing like never before. The fullback role is the best spot for him and he attacks like an old fashioned fullback, backing up support in the middle of the ruck while heading downfield.

Burt also bobs up on the wide, using lateral shift plays for the Eels while his goal kicking is first class all the way.

Ben Smith at right centre deserves to be in the NSW Origin team. His form is superior to Jamie Lyon His powerful running style is a problem on the edges and down the right hand side and he combines well with Eric Grothe.

The Eels' halves are now gelling as Tim Smith and Brett Finch are no longer getting in one another's way.

In the pack, Nathan Cayless, Feleti Mateo, Daniel Wagon and Chad Robinson are in great touch. Mateo is a genuine international in the making _ he could be anything _ the best forward prospect in the game.

He is now 23 and the Lalor Park junior is eligible to play for NSW, Australia, Great Britain and Tonga. Talk about some great work choices.

Mateo's off-loading ability and edge of the ruck running is a force to be reckoned with.

Weaknesses:

Sometimes the Eels forwards have a habit of drifting sideways which means from the ensuing rucks the entire attacking alignment is displaced.

Also, Tim Smith and Brett Finch have a bad habit of producing wayward and pointless kicks in general play.

Michael Hagan is the right fit at the Eels. Tactically he is very underrated and the shift from Newcastle has proved a godsend for him as a coach.

The players like him and respect him, the Eels' insiders have informed the GRL Phantom.

Canberra

Strengths:

Young players with genuine ``football skill'' who have responded well to Neil Henry's tuition.

Henry is also the assistant Queensland coach and a real football coach.

I understand that at halftime of the first origin game, Henry did most of the talking explaining how to beat NSW tactically in the second half.

Henry played for the Raiders between 1982-84 and was Raiders' Jersey Flegg coach in 2001-02. He is widely respected and has the Raiders playing well.

Canberra attack well especially around the play-the-ball and run angle plays, cross plays and decoy options.

Against the Titans last week, they had their ``flat spot'' with so many young players in the squad. Every few weeks the players find it hard mentally to ``come up.''

Key attackers for the Raiders are Lincoln Withers (hooker), William Zillman (fullback) and halfback Michael Dobson.

These three get the ball rolling for Canberra.

Lock and skipper Alan Tongue is a tackling machine and a real workhorse is an inspiration.

Weaknesses:

Canberra once a month play ordinary. It's a lot to do with the ``football age'' of the team.

With so many young players learning all the time, traveling away and coping with the week to week grind of the NRL, mentally the team doesn't function.

When Canberra lose it's by big margins.

The Eels belted them by 30 at Parramatta Stadium earlier this year and the Titans thrashed the Raiders by 30 last Sunday at Gold Coast.

Defensively, the Raiders can be found short on the extremities of the field.

Their wingers sometimes leave space for outside runners to zoom into space and they also can struggle under high kicks.

Verdict:

The Eels by 10 but it will be a genuine contest for most of the match. - Read More, Here