James Cusack previews Friday’s nights game between Parramatta Eels and the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Parramatta promised to deliver so much in 2019 though have failed to do so far. They sit in 8th place with five wins and six losses in what has been a very inconsistent season. It doesn’t get much easier as they face the top of the table Rabbitohs, however, the home side will like their chances against the visitors who are struggling to field a side due to injuries and Origin.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Well, the Bunnies just keep on winning, winning and winning. They’re only loss was in golden point to Manly in Round Four and from then they haven’t looked back. Wayne Bennett faces one of his toughest assignments to date as Rabbitohs coach as he visits Bankwest Stadium with a very inexperienced side, which include two debutants.
Coach Brad Arthur has swung the axe on some of his senior players after last weeks loss to Penrith, dropping Tim Mannah, Brad Takairangi, Daniel Alvaro and George Jennings out of the 17.
The inclusions feature Michael Jennings who will take his place at right centre, which means Blake Ferguson’s experiment at centre is over and as he goes back to the wing. Tepai Moeroa returns from concussion and takes his place at lock while Marata Niukore is relegated to the bench.
Parramatta Eels squad: 1. Clint Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Josh Hoffman 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Will Smith 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Kane Evans 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Manu Ma’u 13. Tepai Moeroa 14. Peni Terepo 15. Ray Stone 16. David Gower 17. Marata Niukore
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Souths have been in the news the past two weeks surrounding their ability to even have 17 fit players to name as injuries mount and four Bunnies selected for Origin.
After a year out of the game with a torn ACL, Adam Doueihi slots straight in at centre for Queensland’s Dane Gagai and Connor Tracey will make his NRL debut at five-eighth in place of the Blues’ Cody Walker. Billy Brittain will debut in the number nine kersey, while Tevita Tatola has been named at lock to cover for young star Cameron Murray. Bayley Sironen has been named to the bench to play his first game of the season.
South Sydney Rabbitohs squad: 1. Corey Allen 2. Mawene Hiroti 3. Ethan Lowe 4. Adam Doueihi 5. Campbell Graham 6. Connor Tracey 7. Adam Reynolds 8. George Burgess 9. Billy Brittain 10. Thomas Burgess 11. John Sutton 12. Sam Burgess 13. Tevita Tatola 14. Bayley Sironen 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Dean Britt 17. Liam Knight
HEAD TO HEAD
The Eels hold a slight lead in the head-to-head battle with 16 wins opposed to 14 with one draw. The Rabbitohs have won the past two encounters by an average margin of 11 points. This will be the first game between the two sides at the newly built Bankwest Stadium.
The obvious choice is the battle between the halfbacks, Eels’ Mitchell Moses up against Rabbitohs Adam Reynolds. However, reports from sports media outlets say Reynolds is most likely to miss this week as he recovers from a badly bruised shin suffered last week. With that being said, in my mind the key battle this week isn’t between two players though for the whole South Sydney side. With four key players missing for Origin plus injuries to Burns, Johnston and Turner the depth of their list has been tested enormously. Connor Tracey, Billy Brittain, Adam Doueihi, Bayley Sironen will all be playing their first game of the season and for two their first NRL game so it’s exciting times though how are they going to fair on Friday night in front of a vocal Parramatta crowd? The onus will be on Rabbitohs leaders Sam Burgess, John Sutton and recruit Ethan Lowe to lead from the front and make sure the team is playing a high standard of football. Eels should like their chances to get back on the winners list against a very inexperienced Rabbitohs side.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday 31 May 2019
Venue: Bankwest Stadium
Referee: Liam Nicholls and Gavin Badger
WHO WILL WIN?
Eels should win but won’t as the Rabbitohs will again guts out another quality away win. After this round the men from Redfern should be listed as Premiership favourites. Rabbitohs by 7.