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Burgess and Sele fire as Souths down Eels in trial

A largely reserve-grade South Sydney side has edged out a stronger Parramatta line-up 28-24 at Ringrose Park on Friday night, with England international Tom Burgess leading the way.

In each club's first 13-a-side hit-out of 2020, the Eels went in with a far stronger side, naming nine of their likely round one 17 and a total of 16 players with NRL experience. The Rabbitohs had just Tom Burgess of their likely round one team involved, and just five with NRL experience.

Wayne Bennett used the trial to put some very big minutes into Burgess, with the England international crashing over for a second-half try.

Corey Allan, Jack Johns and Josh Cook were among the impressive performers for the Rabbitohs while former Dragon Hame Sele, on a train-and-trial deal, has done his hopes of a more formal contract no harm with a powerful stint.

The Eels also unveiled new signing Jai Field, who has joined the club on a train-and-trial deal and played the second half at fullback. The former Dragon had a tough night, being caught out of position a couple of times and struggling under the high ball.

With only Reed Mahoney of the side's first-grade playmakers involved, Rhys Davies and Jaeman Salmon each produced some nice touches.

The Eels dominated early with the help of stinging charges from the likes of Marata Niukore, Kane Evans and Shaun Lane.

They were camped down the South Sydney end for almost the entirety of the opening 10 minutes and the pressure eventually told with young fullback John Fonua crossing in the 11th minute.

Souths got a result from an ugly restart that bounced over Ethan Parry and a big Sele charge was instrumental in setting up the get-square from Jack Johns.

The Eels made plenty of changes at the quarter-time break while Souths lost Cory Denniss who stayed down hurt but was able to walk off.

Souths centre Cory Denniss.
Souths centre Cory Denniss. ©Nathan Hopkins

Haze Dunster crossed out wide for the Eels straight after the resumption from a nice Reed Mahoney grubber.

Re-signed veteran Michael Jennings showed he hasn't lost his pace and swerve with a nice solo try to make it 14-6 after 28.

A nice grubber from Souths hooker Josh Cook was pounced on by Corey Allan to keep it close at 14-12 after 35 minutes.

A spilled bomb from Fonua handed Souths a free set with winger Jaxson Paulo cashing in on an overlap to give Souths the lead for the first time, taking their 18-14 advantage to half-time.

Trials: Eels v Rabbitohs

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Brad Arthur pulled most of his first-grade squad during the break but left a few forwards out to build their minutes and it was Oregon Kaufusi who reclaimed the lead with a big charge at the line.

An Eels error on the first handed Souths a chance with Corey Allen setting up Paulo for his second and reclaiming the lead at 22-20 after 54 minutes.

Souths went further ahead when Field was caught out of position on a 40/20 kick and Tom Burgess crashed over right on the three-quarter drinks break.

A scoreless final quarter was in the offing until a late four-pointer to Makahesi Makatoa but it wasn't enough to avert a 28-24 loss.