The South Sydney Rabbitohs got back in the winners’ circle in round 19, defeating the Parramatta Eels by 32-12 in the NRL’s RiseForAlex round – Alex Johnston and Sam Burgess both bagging doubles.
It was a night of high emotions and solidarity at Parramatta Stadium, firstly for the RiseForAlex initative, but also owing to the moments silence observed by the 16,125 strong crowd in respect of the 27 Australians killed in the MH17 disaster.
The Rabbitohs muscled up with some brutal defence in the opening exchanges that had the Eels going backwards on their own line, while with the ball in hand, the side looked equally as dangerous when an Adam Reynolds grubber-kick into the in-goal was nearly planted down for a try.
But it would be the Eels who would grab first points through big back-rower, Tepai Moeroa – the forward’s lurking in the back-line paying dividends. Chris Sandow converted to make it 6-0.
The Eels took control of the match but failed to capitalise with points. Lote Tuqiri then found himself on report after a suspected crusher-tackle half-way through the opening stanza.
Issac Luke was making easy metres from dummy-half for the red and greens as the side fought to get onto the score-board – the little hooker earning a repeat-set through a penalty that parked Souths right on the Parra tryline. Tuqiri capitalised on the back of a well-orchestrated back-line movement to open the red and green account for the night. Adam Reynolds made a meal of the conversion attempt, leaving the score at 6-4.
Three minutes from full-time, Chris Sandow managed a booming forty-twenty that put the Eels right in attacking position with Souths on the back-foot. But Dylan Walker diffused the situation with an intercept and streaking 70 metres before being collected high by Sandown in a desperate tackle. The penalty put the Rabbitohs back on the front foot with Sam Burgess streaking through to score to take the lead. Reynolds made no mistake with the conversion 15 metres in from touch to take the sides to the break at 10-6 in the Rabbitohs’ favour.
On the resumption, The Eels had a try disallowed after the Parramatta player bounced the ball over the line. But it was Souths who ended up scoring at the other end of the field when Alex Johnston crossed for his eighth try of his career in eight career games. Reynolds converted to make it 16-6.
Joe Picker was denied a try thanks to an obstruction during the play, before Parramatta made no mistake with one of their own with 22 minutes left in the match, with Joseph Paulo grabbing the points. Sandown converted to make it 16-12 in the Rabbitohs’ favour.
With 17 minutes remaining, halfback Adam Reynolds was substituted for Luke Keary, who with only his second touch hoisted a well-placed cross-field bomb that landed in Kyle Turner’s hands for the young gun to score. Dylan Walker was handed kicking duties with Reynolds off the pitch, but the centre was unsuccessful with the attempt.
It mattered little though, because with seven and a half minutes left, speedster Alex Johnston outpaced Vai Toutai on the fringe before racing over to score his second of the night and his ninth in eight games. Issac Luke backed up his strong performance by converting the try from right on the touch-line to all but seal the game at 26-12.
Chris Sandow did his side no favours from the kick-off when his short kick went awry – failing to travel the required ten metres. The Rabbitohs took full advantage, with Sam Burgess sneaking across from dummy half right under the sticks. Luke converted from in front to make the final score 32-12.