Coming off an impressive victory against the Broncos, the Eels finish off the season at home with an important game against the Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium. The Rabbitohs come off a drubbing against the Storm, and will want to right their wrongs after an embarrassingly one sided affair last Saturday. Both sides have relatively strong squads entering the final round of the season.
Last Time Out:
The Eels took on an in form Brisbane side at Suncorp Stadium, a game that could prove Parramatta’s worth as a title contender. The Eels got off to the best possible start with a try within 12 seconds, after an Adam Blair offload that went astray. Semi Radradra had one of the best games of his career, and showed that Parramatta’s good start was more than luck. Parramatta struck again with a terrific solo try by Semi coming out of his own half in the 6th minute. Radradra again scored in the 19th minute, bobbling the ball and scoring close to the posts with good hands. Surprisingly, by the 20 minute mark, the Eels had raced out to an 18-0 lead.. The Broncos managed to isolate the Eels onslaught with two quick tries. Good passing saw David Mead cross, and a bounce off the goal posts saw Josh McGuire score under the posts. Michael Jennings however, just before half time made sure the Eels entered the break with momentum and scored in the right corner. A deficit of 30-10 at half time, the Broncos had to create a miracle for themselves to maintain second spot on the ladder. A solid start to the second half with good running and consistent control of the ball did not mean much in the end, as Radradra ran out from his own half for the second time and scored close to the posts, extending the Eels margin to 36-10. Brisbane shot themselves in the foot the entire game, failing to finish their sets and gifting the Eels a lot of possession, highlighted by their 12 errors to Parramatta’s four. Tries to Herman Ese’ese and Alex Glenn gave Brisbane more hope, and saw them run the ball through their forwards solidly and gain some valuable metres. But once again, the Eels had no thought of reducing their attacking output, running in three more tries to put 52 on the Broncos in Brisbane. A couple of late consolation scores to the Broncos ended the game, as the Eels ran rampant with a 52-34 victory. The win sees Parramatta now on win away from a top four finish, and return to the finals in fine form. Brisbane on the other hand must bring themselves together and grab a win on the road against the Cowboys if they are to also secure a top four finish for 2017.
The Rabbitohs looked to continue their rise in form at the back end of the season by travelling to Melbourne, and at least remain competitive against the Storm. The Storm put on a masterclass at home, with their best offensive display of the season. Two quick tries in the first five minutes to Suliasi Vunivalu and Cameron Munster reminded the Bunnies of how potent the Storm’s big time players can be. The Storm went 23 minutes without scoring, but from the 28th minute on with Vunivalu grabbing a double, the floodgates opened. Three tries were scored in 12 minutes, with one being a penalty try after Vunivalu was held back without the ball. 36-0 at half time, and Melbourne would continue to pound the Rabbitohs try line. Melbourne had 60 percent of possession, as well as enjoying a significantly better completion rate with 82 percent compared to Souths 74 percent, coming from nine errors and nine penalties conceded by the Rabbitohs. Billy Slater opened the scoring in the second half with a great run and offload from Cameron Munster, and Josh Addo-Carr and Tim Glasby would run in two more before the 60 minute mark to give the Storm an impressive 54-0 advantage. It would not be until the 64th minute that the Bunnies would come close to scoring, and they did off an Adam Reynolds kick for Tyrell Fuimaono to cross. Melbourne’s attacking numbers eclipsed what the Bunnies produced, having 1922 running metres to the Rabbitohs 1071, as well as 13 line breaks and 10 offloads. Tohu Harris and Addo-Carr would ice the cake with two late tries, and see the game out with a huge 64-6 win for the Storm. The win sees Melbourne remain at the top, and with such a big margin and the finals coming close, it proves the dominance they truly have over the rest of the competition. The Rabbitohs on the other hand, for some time now, are simply playing for pride.
Mitchell Moses has been one of the in-form players of the competition since his arrival at the Eels. Adam Reynolds on the other hand has struggled to fins form that does not mean his worth to the side has diminished in any way.
Moses’s numbers have improved, and his work purely from the eye looks sensational. He has mustered nine try assists in 13 games for the Eels, as well as his kicking metres remaining at a solid 232 per game for 2017. Moss has added an important element to the Eels halves that features a terrific combination of a kicking game with great ball handling, complementing the running game of Corey Norman nicely. Moses will once again be primed for a strong performance, given the circumstances of the clash, and will be a key to scoring points at the end of sets.
Reynolds, as I have said numerous times this season, has not really been himself since the Bunnies premiership win of 2014. It comes down to the supporting cast for a halves player, and given the diminished side that compares to 2014, the Rabbitohs are not up to standard at the moment. His talents are on full display when his backline are able to perform. He is known to have one of the best kicking games in the competition, and on top of that has terrific speed for his position. Expect Reynolds to finish the season on a high, and have a strong combination with Cody Walker.
The Eels win over the Broncos reassured people that they have the firepower to take down the giants of the competition. All they need is a win, nothing more. The Rabbitohs have the talent and will to cause trouble for the Eels, and considering they have nothing to play for there may be more adventurous plays called from Reynolds and Walker in the halves. Assuming all goes to plan, the Eels should come away with a much needed win given the gap in talent and form right now. Eels by 8
Eels: 1. Will Smith 2. Semi Radradra 3. Michael Jennings 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Kirisome Auva’a 6. Corey Norman 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Daniel Alvaro 9. Cameron King 10. Tim Mannah 11. Manu Ma’u 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Nathan Brown 14. David Gower 15. Kenny Edwards 16. Siosaia Vave 17. Suaia Matagi 18. Kaysa Pritchard 19. Josh Hoffman 20. Beau Scott 21. Frank Pritchard
Rabbitohs: 1. Bryson Goodwin 2. Campbell Graham 3. Aaron Gray 4. Tyrell Fuimaono 5. Robert Jennings 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Damien Cook 10. Sam Burgess 11. John Sutton 12. Angus Crichton 13. Cameron Murray 14. Robbie Farah 15. George Burgess 16. Kyle Turner 17. Dean Britt 18. Jason Clark 19. David Tyrrell 20. Siosifa Talakai 21. Luke Kelly