PREVIEW: Eels v Rabbitohs, Rd 4, 2015
Rabbitohs vs Eels
Friday 27 March 2015
NRL Kick-off 7.35pm
The Rabbitohs will have the opportunity to grab their fourth win of the 2015 season on Friday night at Pirtek Stadium, when they take on a talented Parramatta side sure to be motivated by two losses leading into Round 4.
Both outfits have had their own share of injuries in recent weeks, but despite that, The Rabbitohs and the Eels will field impressive line-ups.
For the Rabbitohs, after just one outing, Tim Grant has claimed his place in Michael Maguire’s starting line-up after an aggressive showing against the Tigers. Similarly, Chris McQueen – after starting from the bench during the opening rounds of the season – finds himself in the second row following a solid showing.
The spot vacated by the injured Dylan Walker will be filled by the experienced Daryl Millard, who will make his first grade debut for the red and greens in the centres. Millard is a capable replacement for the Test centre and will provide plenty of spark to the Rabbitohs backline.
Despite their solid start, Maguire’s ever competitive squad is focussing on getting their own structures right this Friday against the Eels.
Maguire is confident in his men and their ability to perform their individual roles as they look for win number four at Parramatta Stadium.
“For us, it’s about what we do really,” said Maguire.
“If we’re defending the way we’re capable of and we’re repelling them with what they’re throwing at us, it’s about what we do. They’ll turn up – they’re at home, we’re expecting they’re going to be at their best like most teams are when they step across that white line.
“I’m happy with how the boys have been performing, but we know that there’s plenty that we need to work on from week to week.
“The challenge that we faced last weekend will be different to the challenges we’ll face this week. We’re playing a team that’s been well drilled.
“I know from watching how they’ve developed at Parramatta, they’re becoming a very strong force and they’ve got a lot of young and enthusiastic players. We need to make sure we’re at our best as we do all week.”
Last Time Against the Eels
The South Sydney Rabbitohs got back in the winners’ circle in round 19 of 2014, defeating the Parramatta Eels by 32-12 in the NRL’s RiseForAlex round – Alex Johnston and Sam Burgess both bagging doubles.
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.
Spotlight – Tim Back-Row
The red and green back-row may have had a bit of a re-shuffle in recent weeks owing to the injury of John Sutton, but this week’s incarnation boasts representative fire-power that will go a long way to determining the match.
Chris McQueen, Glenn Stewart and Tim Grant have all pulled on jumpers in State of Origin and therefore have the necessary aggression and nous to not only get the team moving forward, but to create opportunities on the fringes.
Grant – more commonly considered a prop – will play lock in what is sure to be a more traditional approach to position in a metre-gaining capacity.
McQueen is back in the familiar second-row where he has played for the Maroons, and will play a combination of metre-gaining forward as well as injecting himself out wide.
If Glenn Stewart’s contribution to the Rabbitohs since round one is anything to go by, expect his combinations with both Adam Reynolds and Greg Inglis to grow even further on Friday, as he brings his unique approach to the game from the back-row. Not only can the rep forward make metres, he can play as a second five-eighth.