Finals footy is already secured for Parramatta while South Sydney have fallen well short of the mark but this game could still be worth a watch.
The Eels were clinical in their complete decimation of the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium last week, with Toulon-bound Semi Radradra scoring four tries in a performance that illustrated, once again, rugby league’s loss will be union’s gain.
Radradra wasn’t the only standout player as former New South Wales centre Michael Jennings put on a vintage display, notching a brace in the 52-34 demolition.
The Bunnies come into the game on the back of one of their most humiliating losses ever, with Melbourne storm hitting 64 points against them.
Pressure is mounting on Michael Maguire and that heavy loss will have done nothing to assuage doubts of his ability to turn things around and bring back the glory days of the 2014 Premiership win.
2017 – Rd 12 Parramatta Eels 22 def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 16 at ANZ Stadium
2016 – Rd 15 Parramatta Eels 30 def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 12 at ANZ Stadium
2016 – Rd 10 South Sydney Rabbitohs 22 def. Parramatta Eels 20 at Parramatta Stadium
2015 – Rd 11 South Sydney Rabbitohs 14 def. Parramatta Eels 12 at ANZ Stadium
2015 – Rd 4 Parramatta Eels 29 def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 16 at Parramatta Stadium
|Will Smith||1||1||Bryson Goodwin|
|Semi Radradra||2||2||Campbell Graham|
|Michael Jennings||3||3||Aaron Gray|
|Brad Takairangi||4||4||Tyrell Fuimaono|
|Kirisome Auva’a||5||5||Robert Jennings|
|Corey Norman||6||6||Cody Walker|
|Mitchell Moses||7||7||Adam Reynolds|
|Daniel Alvaro||8||8||Thomas Burgess|
|Cameron King||9||9||Damien Cook|
|Tim Mannah||10||10||Sam Burgess|
|Manu Ma’u||11||11||John Sutton|
|Tepai Moeroa||12||12||Angus Crichton|
|Nathan Brown||13||13||Cameron Murray|
|David Gower||14||14||Robbie Farah|
|Kenny Edwards||15||15||George Burgess|
|Siosaia Vave||16||16||Kyle Turner|
|Suaia Matagi||17||17||Dean Britt|
|Kaysa Pritchard||18||18||Jason Clark|
|Josh Hoffman||19||19||David Tyrrell|
|Beau Scott||20||20||Siosifa Talakai|
|Frank Pritchard||21||21||Luke Kelly|
The Facts That Matter
The Eels come in to this week having scored a half-century of points at Brisbane however injuries are taking their toll on the club, particularly in the back line where Clint Gutherson and Bevan French have picked up injuries. Brad Arthur has had to throw Will Smith in at fullback over the last few weeks and while he has held up his end of the bargain well, playing some solid footy with minimal mistakes, he lacks the cutting edge and attacking verve that both Gutherson and French provided.
Last week’s win over the Broncos had the added benefit of catapulting the Eels back into the all-important top four, where they can be considered legitimate challengers for the title alongside the likes of Melbourne Storm. The one negative was how they conceded soft tries to allow the home side to close the gap in the latter stages of the game.
Manu Ma’u returns from suspension, which forces Kenny Edwards back to the bench and Frank Pritchard to the reserves list alongside Kaysa Pritchard. Much of the Eels’ recent form has been on the back of great ball control and set completion as well as their speed and size on the fringes of the ruck.
While the likes of Radradra and Jennings get the headlines, Corey Norman and Mitchell Moses have developed a nice partnership in the halves and the Eels’ forward pack has held its own, making plenty of yardage through the middle third of the field.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
What can you say about the Bunnies last week? From minute one to minute 80, they were comprehensively ripped apart by the best rugby league team in the world right now. They’ll do well to put that straight in to the rear view mirror and move on as quickly as possible.
Some Souths players may still be waking up in a cold sweat at the prospect of dealing with a flying Suliasi Vunivalu or Josh Addo-Carr. Their task doesn’t get any easier this week with Radradra primed and firing in an extended swansong to his Eels career.
Sam Burgess escaped any concern over a rough head slam accusation against the Storm with the England international being named at prop. Zane Musgrove is missing for the Rabbitohs through suspension with Dean Britt added to the bench as his replacement.
Prior to their humiliation in Melbourne last week, the Rabbitohs had found a small pocket of good form in an otherwise disappointing season, banking three wins on the bounce. Like Parramatta, the Rabbitohs’ wins have come off the back of good completion rates and a strong running game through the middle of the park, meaning we are set for a tough, physical encounter this Friday night.
As ever, much of the good the Bunnies produce in attack will flow through half-back Adam Reynolds and the enigmatic Cody Walker, especially in the absence of key strike-weapon Alex Johnston.
This is an interesting but tough one to pick. The impetus, form and team sheets make it hard to go past the Eels, especially considering they need a win to guarantee their place in the top four ahead of the Sharks.
That said, games in the last week of the season, against an opposition with only pride to play for, have a tendency to throw up weird and wacky results.
I’ll take the safe bet of Parramatta by a clear margin but don’t be surprised if this is a wild and crazy game.
How do you see this Friday night clash between the Eels and Rabbitohs playing out? Let us know in the comments and poll below.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?