South Sydney have extended their winning streak over Parramatta to five with a resounding 30-12 victory in muddy conditions at Accor Stadium on Saturday night.
On a night the Bunnies welcomed back star No.1 Latrell Mitchell, it was prolific winger Alex Johnston who shined, becoming the 13th all-time leading try-scorer in history with a first half double setting up an 18-6 lead.
Mitchell then chimed in during the second half to set up one of the tries of the night ahead of a possibly Origin III call-up on Sunday.
The Eels weren't at their best with ball in hand and gifted the home side a 12-point advantage on the stroke of half-time when a Mitchell Moses pass was intercepted by Johnston, who strolled to the line.
Match: Rabbitohs v Eels
Round 16 -
Venue: Accor Stadium, Sydney
A scrappy second half from both sides was made better by Mitchell's effort to send Damien Cook over the line.
Rabbitohs halfback Lachlan Ilias put a disappointing evening against the Dragons a fortnight ago behind him by playing his part in the win.
- Latrell Mitchell made his return to the field after 12 weeks on the sidelines, including a stint in the USA, following a hamstring injury.
- The Rabbitohs lost prop Hame Sele early to a hamstring concern while Campbell Graham copped a heavy knock but returned after passing a HIA.
- Alex Johnston crossed for the opening try in the third minute, finishing off a left-edge raid.
- The Rabbitohs got their second after Isaiah Tass, who was a late inclusion for Taane Milne, kept a Jaxson Paulo kick alive to send Jai Arrow over.
- Parramatta struck back through skipper Clint Gutherson in the 21st minute after he finished off a Shaun Lane break on the left edge.
- South Sydney lost Mark Nicholls to a failed head injury assessment in the second half, reducing their bench to just two men.
- Eels forward Isaiah Papali'i was placed on report for late contact on Lachlan Ilias.
- A strong shot from Campbell Graham on Shaun Lane enabled the Rabbitohs to strike first in the second half with Jaxson Paulo the beneficiary to set up a 24-6 lead.
- Latrell Mitchell had a quiet first half with just four runs for 22 metres but got more involved in the second to set up Damien Cook with a
- Parramatta had just 45% of the ball for the evening and were limited in attack with only 11 play the balls in South Sydney's 20-metre zone.
- Eels forward Junior Paulo (144 metres) tried hard in the wet conditions while Jai Arrow and Tom Burgess led the Rabbitohs forward pack.
- A double to Gutherson late was his second of the season.
Slippery Eels hit back through Gutherson
Plays of the game
In the wet, greasy conditions there was absolutely no respect shown by South Sydney when Jai Arrow crossed the line and for good reason. With the ball kept alive on the last, a kick from Jaxon Paulo landed in the hands of Isaiah Tass, who found Arrow in a special Rabbitohs try.
Arrow finds the target
Latrell Mitchell then sent NSW selectors and the Rabbitohs faithful a friendly reminder he was back with a weaving effort alongside Lachlan Ilias sending Damien Cook to the line.
Bunnies are cooking
What they said
"As a team we were disappointed with the opening 30 minutes against the Dragons. I think we saw a fair difference tonight. They like to play quite expansive with a lot of offloads in their game so the conditions were probably going to limit that and allowed us to tighten up and have that defensive mindset which I thought we did really well." - Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou.
"We didn't have any field position and made nine errors out of red zone so we gifted them opportunity. We're just not playing well as a team every week. We need 17 players owning their job and we're just not getting that. It's got to be individual accountability, you've got to want to do it. We're not seeing any shortcuts at training but we've got to work together and try to win the game together." - Eels coach Brad Arthur.
NRL Press Conference: Rabbitohs v Eels - Round 16, 2022
Both teams will be in action next week during the bye-affected round. South Sydney have a six-day turnaround before facing the Knights in Newcastle. The Rabbitohs are certain to be without Damien Cook, Cameron Murray and Jai Arrow to Origin duties while Latrell Mitchell is also a chance if he receives a call-up.
Parramatta will take on the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval next Saturday night in a match that could have limited impact with Origin with only prop Junior Paulo representing NSW in Origin II.