Date: Thursday, 14th June
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Homebush
Kick Off: 7:50 AEST
Head Referee:Gerard Sutton
Assistant Referee: Peter Gough
Head-to-head: Played 124 – Parramatta 54, Souths 67, Drawn 3
Odds: Eels $3.60 Souths $1.30
Broadcast: Foxtel, Nine from 7:30pm
Last Four Encounters:
1. Eels 22 def Rabbitohs 16, ANZ Stadium – Round 26, 2017
2. Eels 22 def Rabbitohs 16, ANZ Stadium – Round 12, 2017
3. Eels 30 def Rabbitohs 12, ANZ Stadium – Round 15, 2016
4. Rabbitohs 22 def Eels 20, Pirtek Stadium – Round 10, 2016
The Warm Up:
Hands up any Eels fans that have experienced grave concerns about this clash.
The Rabbitohs are on track for the seventh consecutive victory. Prior to last weekend, the Eels were at short odds to be aiming for their seventh consecutive loss in this match. However, a much needed victory by Parra has them entering this round as last up winners.
Of course, the Eels would not be under any illusions about the difference between the Cowboys and the Rabbitohs. The two clubs are polar opposites on the table for a reason. The Rabbitohs are in form and confident. The Cowboys were not.
Nonetheless, last week Parramatta did what they needed to do – win against a favoured opponent in conditions that better suited North Queensland. They need to take pride in that and maintain their effort. This may yet be a much closer result than many expect.
Having a Punt:
This week’s value bet is for Bevan French to score two or more tries, paying $13.00 with TAB Sportsbet.
The first try favourites are listed below:
Eels: George Jennings & Josh Hoffman – both $13
Souths: Alex Johnston, Campbell Graham & Greg Inglis – all $10
Feed Your Footy Brain
This will be Michael Jennings 250th NRL match. It will be even more special with the three Jennings brothers playing in the same clash.
Tracking: Nathan Brown
In 2017, TCT fondly referred to Nathan Brown as the Cyborg. He was like a machine as he regularly clocked up well over 100 running metres and sat near the top of the tackle count on a weekly basis.
Against the Cowboys, the tough as nails middle forward rekindled memories from last year with a ridiculous 172 running metres and 46 tackles. He was literally a man on a mission against Jason Taumalolo.
There’s little doubt that the Eels have been impacted by Brown’s absence this year, not only for his impressive contributions in both attack in defence, but the inspiration that his presence provides. There is certainly no shortage of trust in Brown when his team mates line up beside him.
With a likely assignment of Sam Burgess awaiting, Brown will be fired up to leave his mark on another high profile target.
I’m going to mix it up again by steering clear of nominating as expected – but with a twist.
It’s danger men – the Burgii.
Sam, George and Tom Burgess have literally been smashing their way through every pack this year, in form reminiscent of their premiership season.
With such a powerful platform being laid by the English brothers, the Rabbitohs attack has been working against battered defences, allowing them to play a more expansive brand of footy.
The Eels forwards have been criticised for being too small, or lacking impact, so the Souths pack will be confident of continuing their 2018 rampage. Eels fans will be hoping that the defensive commitment from Darwin manifests again this week.
Eels: 1 Bevan French, 2 Josh Hoffman, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Jarryd Hayne, 5 George Jennings, 6 Clint Gutherson (c), 7 Corey Norman, 8 Daniel Alvaro, 9 Cameron King, 10 Peni Terepo, 11 Manu Ma’u, 12 Brad Takairangi, 13 Nathan Brown Interchange: 14 Reed Mahoney, 15 Tim Mannah (c), 16 David Gower, 17 Marata Niukore
Reserves: 18 Siosaia Vave, 21 Mitchell Moses
Rabbitohs: 1 Alex Johnston, 2 Campbell Graham, 3 Greg Inglis (c), 4 Dane Gagai, 5 Robert Jennings, 6 Cody Walker, 7 Adam Reynolds, 8 Thomas Burgess, 9 Damien Cook, 10 George Burgess, 11 John Sutton, 12 Angus Crichton, 13 Sam Burgess Interchange: 14 Adam Doueihi, 15 Cameron Murray, 16 Jason Clark, 17 Tevita Tatola
Reserves: 18 Robbie Farah, 19 Hymel Hunt, 20 Mark Nicholls, 21 Tyrell Fuimaono
Jarryd Hayne vs Greg Inglis
This match up is not about any contact between the two on the field. It’s about who will mean more to their respective team on the night.
The Greg Inglis of this season is all about maturity and leadership. The powerhouse Souths centre is still just as difficult to contain as he always was. He still looks to get the ball in his hands when the team most needs it. But this year he seems to symbolise the Rabbitohs – 2018 version.
There’s a clarity of purpose and confidence in Souths play, and GI sets the standard. He’s always been an intimidating figure on the field, but his critics have pointed to periods in matches when his involvement wanes. That cannot be said about him this year.
Jarryd Hayne may never recapture the form of his younger years, but he still possesses the talent that other players can only dream of. Injuries have hampered his return to the Eels, yet his contribution in limited appearances has been significant.
Before the Eels first win against Manly, Hayne was the man to fire the team up in the training session that drew blood. On match day, he set up Ma’u’s try before succumbing to injury. Then in his return match against the Cowboys, his footy instincts produced the tap and run try, then vintage Hayne was seen in his catch and score for a second try.
An Eels team short on attacking inspiration needs an involved Jarryd Hayne. Will he be the source of a match turning moment against the Rabbitohs?
And The Winner Is:
Massive conflict for me here.
Much like last week, it’s difficult to see the Eels overcoming their opponents. Souths are cutting a swathe through better performed teams than the Eels, whilst Parra have only recorded three victories.
I do expect the Eels to go to another level against Souths and it will be a tougher and tighter contest than many are expecting.
I’ll be cheering for Parra and looking for them to win the many small moments in the game that lead to victory. That’s my hope.
My expectation – Souths 30 Parra 22
Man of the Match – Sam Burgess