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2021 NRL Round 12 Preview, Rabbitohs Vs Eels

Nathan Smith previews the South Sydney Rabbitohs hosting the Parramatta Eels. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Stadium Australia, Sydney, Date: Saturday, 29th of May, Time: 5:30pm

Rabbitohs Team

1. Latrell Mitchell
2. Alex Johnston
3. Dane Gagai
4. Campbell Graham
5. Taane Milne
6. Cody Walker
7. Adam Reynolds
8. Jai Arrow
9. Damien Cook
10. Tevita Tatola
11. Keaon Koloamatangi
12. Jacob Host
13. Cameron Murray
14. Benji Marshall
15. Mark Nicholls
16. Hame Sele
17. Thomas Burgess
18. Liam Knight
19. Jaydn Su’A
20. Patrick Mago
21. Braidon Burns

Team Changes

IN: Cameron Murray, Hame Sele, Jacob Host, Patrick Mago, Taane Milne
OUT: Jed Cartwright, Josh Mansour

Eels Team

1. Clinton Gutherson
2. Maika Sivo
3. Tom Opacic
4. Waqa Blake
5. Blake Ferguson
6. Jakob Arthur
7. Mitchell Moses
8. Oregon Kaufusi
9. Reed Mahoney
10. Junior Paulo
11. Isaiah Papali’i
12. Ryan Matterson
13. Nathan Brown
14. Marata Nuikore
15. Shaun Lane
16. Joey Lussick
17. Bryce Cartwright
18. Haze Dunster
19. Makahesi Makatoa
20. Will Penisini
21. Jordan Rankin

Team Changes

IN: Jordan Rankin, Makahesi Makatoa, Marata Niukore, Will Penisini
OUT: Reagan Campbell-Gillard

Referee: Gerard Sutton

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

South Sydney Rabbitohs

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South Sydney received their second 50+ point towelling in three weeks, this time against table leaders the Penrith Panthers. Their credibility as a premiership threat has, as a result, taken a serious hit. There’s a chance to atone for a few poor performances by beating a top four team in the Parramatta Eels.

There’s been a few changes, as one might expect when a team cops a belting. Josh Mansour failed his HIA on the weekend and has been rested as a precaution, with Taane Milne to come into the starting wing spot. Further, Thomas Burgess moves to the bench, with Jai Arrow taking his starting spot. The key in for the Rabbitohs is their lock Cameron Murray, who returns after spending several weeks on the sideline.

Parramatta Eels

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The Eels received their second loss of the year at the hands of the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. It was an afternoon where nothing went right for the home team, with plenty of opportunities bombed. Parramatta will want to ‘steady the ship’ by picking up a win this week.

Reagan Campbell-Gillard will miss this game after taking an early guilty plea for a high shot. That moves Oregon Kaufusi into the starting side as prop. Furthermore, Marata Niukore makes his return to the side and will be coming off of the bench. Interestingly, Brad Arthur has opted to keep Waqa Blake in the side despite an exceedingly poor game last week, so he will be looking to repay the faith of his coach.

PREVIEW

This match is a battle between two sides who feature as some of the higher achievers in 2021, yet, haven’t quite shown they’re capable of going all the way.

South Sydney have been patchy at best throughout the year, with some strong wins and poor losses. Though they’ve defeated the Roosters, they’ve fallen to the Storm twice (the second of those a thrashing), and are coming off a huge loss to the Panthers. A win this week, against a top four side in the Eels, is vitally important in restoring some pride.

Parramatta were comprehensively beaten by the Sea Eagles. As a result, they’ve slipped into third position after sitting second throughout most of the season. This match presents itself as a danger game for the Eels, as the Rabbitohs will be hungry to avenge a few big losses. Should Parramatta lose, they may slip into the same mid-year slump that hurt them in 2020.

The match up between returning lock, Cameron Murray, and the Eels’ hard hitting Nathan Brown should be a pleasing one. Murray is the defensive glue that the Rabbitohs have sorely missed, and will ensure the middle of the field is secure. Brown will undoubtedly take him on in his typically uncompromising style, and look to intimidate and dominate the middle.

Ultimately, the two teams are part of the top five or six that most punters think are a chance, but still quite clearly below the likes of Melbourne and Penrith. For the Rabbitohs, it’s about restoring some pride in their performances and resetting the season, while Parramatta will be determined to prove last week was a rare off day.

KEY STAT

The last time these two teams met was during the 2020 finals’ series, which saw the Rabbitohs defeat the Eels at Bankwest Stadium. Prior to that, the Rabbitohs beat them 38-0. Beyond that, the Rabbitohs have a distinct winning record over the Eels with 71 wins from their 129 encounters. Furthermore, they’ve beaten the Eels on 11 of the 17 encounters at Stadium Australia. The last time the Eels had beaten the Rabbitohs was back in 2019 against a severely understrength South Sydney team. All in all, it’s not pretty reading for the Eels.

PREDICTION

This is a tough one to call. Both sides will be wanting to rebound from last week. One might suggest the Rabbitohs will have a bit more fire in the belly given the humiliating nature of their loss. That said, the overall form of both sides is slightly in favour of the Eels, who might just scrape home to win in a close contest.

Eels by 4

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