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Eels v Rabbitohs

ANZ Stadium, Sunday June 23rd

Kickoff at 3:00pm

The last placed Eels will have an opportunity to claim the scalp of the first placed Rabbitohs this Sunday, largely thanks to the absence of Origin Stars Greg Inglis, Chris McQueen, Ben Teo and Nathan Merritt.

With so much red and green strike power turning out in either blue or maroon this coming Wednesday, the remaining Rabbitohs will face what could be their toughest challenge of the season when it comes to mental toughness and discipline.

Since the acquisition of Greg Inglis at Redfern, Nathan Merritt has stood out as the obvious and most worthy stand in at fullback during the Origin period. But with Merritt now an Origin star himself, the fleet-footed Justin Hunt gets his chance to shine after a handful of first grade games in 2012.

The absence of George Burgess may not prove a vital factor to the red and green go forward, with twin brother (and near carbon copy) Thomas Burgess filling the truly giant hole left in the English props wake in what will be Toms first grade debut.

For Parramatta, with a near full complement of players along with an intense fire in the belly after almost the whole first grade squad was put on notice by coach Ricky Stuart Sundays game could be a turning point in their season.

Recent History:

The Rabbitohs have won the last five encounters between the two clubs, the most recent being 2012s round 25 clash that sealed the fate of Parramatta as wooden spooners.

Despite a tight opening to the match that saw the Rabbitohs lead 12-6 at half-time, a blistering performance from Greg Inglis, inspired the Bunnies to pile on the points in the second half.

Inglis began his romp in the 16th minute after taking an inside ball from John Sutton to score. But the barge-over try was only a preview of Inglis game day arsenal.

Former Rabbitoh Chris Sandow took on Inglis and came off second best in the second half, with GI bouncing the Eels halfback off his chest and in to the dirt in a real show of strength.

Some more Inglis brilliance, coupled with some great finishes from wingers Nathan Merritt and Andrew Everingham sealed the win for the Rabbitohs ahead of the 2012 finals series.

Keys to Victory:

Parramatta will be looking to expose Justin Hunt under the high ball in the absence of Greg Inglis. Hunts ability to stay calm under the increased attention could be vital in the outcome of the game, while Thomas Burgess will surely be targeted thanks to the reputation that comes with bearing his last name.

The Eels will also need to halt the progress of a Rabbitohs forward pack that remains largely unchanged and buoyed by continuity. Should the Eels be able to limit the yardage gained by the Rabbitohs, they could go a long way to winning the match.

For the Rabbitohs, the battle is all mental. Overcoming the absence of their Origin stars as well as the psychological effect of playing the lowest placed team in the competition could see a red and green victory.

Key Matchups:

Reynolds vs Sandow: Both Sandow and Reynolds found success at the Rabbitohs and enjoyed being team mates in the NYC together, but both couldnt be more different as players. Sandow is an elusive, unpredictable and naturally gifted footballer. Reynolds is all of those things too, but the ace up his sleeve is his ability to play within the constructs of Michael Maguires game plan, and excel within it.

Lowe vs Maitua: Maitua brings experience to his battle with Ben Lowe, having played more career games than his counterpart, as well playing more minutes during the 2013 season so far. But Lowes defence has been a feature for the Rabbitohs in his time with the club, with the lock having made 53 more tackles than Maitua in far less game time.

Keating vs Luke: Issac Luke has been a revelation for the Rabbitohs from dummy half, making easy metres at every opportunity when defences are napping. However, the Eels Mathew Keating makes more tackles, and misses less tackles than Luke per game. The fitness of both sides will decide who comes out on top in this battle.


Eels v Rabbitohs

ANZ Stadium, Sunday June 23rd

Kickoff at 12:45pm

The Rabbitohs come off a convincing 40-26 drubbing of the Gold Coast Titans, after being down at half-time. With captain Cameron McInnes leading the way with a personal 16 point haul, the red and greens clawed back in fine style to prove the character of the side.

The Rabbitohs have recorded three wins, a loss and a draw from their last five games, after kicking off the year with a single win out of six, while the Eels will be looking to get back to back wins for the first time this season after accounting for the Sharks 30-18 last week.

Souths centre Jaiden Hawkes will be the one to watch after posting 207 metres in the game against the Titans. Hawkes will be an integral part of Sundays match in his matchup with John Folau.