Eels v Bulldogs: Moses back on deck; Thompson ready to return

The Eels' loss to fellow contenders Souths dropped them from fifth to seventh on the ladder and in danger of being passed by the Roosters unless they can rebound in Round 23.

Since their bye in Round 13 the Eels have gone L-W-L-W-W-L-W-L, a rollercoaster ride which has seen them spoken about as premiership contenders one week and inconsistent under-achievers the next.

That stretch of games started with a shock loss to the Bulldogs in Round 14 and that's the opponent they confront again this week in front of what us sure to be a raucous crowd at CommBank Stadium.

The Bulldogs looked jaded in Auckland on Friday but they've had a chance to recharge their batteries and will be buoyed by the news of Cameron Ciraldo's arrival as head coach in 2023.

The Rundown
Team news

Eels: Halfback Mitch Moses returns from the broken finger he suffered in Round 20. Jake Arthur remained in the squad when it was trimmed to 19 on Friday and winger Bailey Simonsson is 18th Man as he nears a return from the hamstring injury that has sidelined him for three games.

Bulldogs: A couple of huge inclusions with Englishman Luke Thompson and Tongan powerhouse Tevita Pangai jnr coming into the 17 on Friday. Thompson hasn't played since Round 12 due to concussion and Pangai jnr missed the trip to New Zealand last week for personal reasons. Jackson Topine and Chris Patolo are the two players to make way.

Key match-up
Junior Paulo v Paul Vaughan: After making 187 metres in Round 20 against Penrith and 173 against Manly in Round 21, Paulo was restricted to just 74 metres in the loss to the Rabbitohs so he'll be on a mission from the opening whistle. Vaughan, meanwhile, has played all 21 games for the Dogs and is churning out 134 metres and 29 tackles per match. In a badly beaten pack he still ran for 160 metres in 54 minutes of game time against the Warriors.

Stat Attack
The Eels lead the NRL in offloads with 278 and the Bulldogs sit third with 241. Tevita Pangai jnr leads the way for the Dogs with 47 offloads while Ryan Matterson is Parramatta's best with 33. That figure for TPJ puts him at the top of the offloading tree after 22 rounds, seven clear of Panther Viliame Kikau.


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