With the South Sydney Rabbitohs tasting defeat for the first time in 2015 with a Round 4 loss to the Parramatta Eels, the men in red and green were eager to redeem themselves in their second outing against the Western Sydney-based team, claiming a 14-12 victory in Round 11 at ANZ Stadium.
After starting the season with a string of convincing victories against strong opposition, the Rabbitohs struggled for form in the weeks leading into their second clash with the Eels, winning only one match out of their past five encounters.
Adding to the difficulties faced by the Rabbitohs was the fact that the side would be missing two key players in the form of Adam Reynolds and Greg Inglis. The absence of the halfback and custodian caused a slight re-shuffle that would see John Sutton slot into the halves in the place of Reynolds and Alex Johnston deputize for Inglis at the back.
The match also signaled the 120th occasion that the two sides had come together since 1947, as well as the 100th NRL game for South Sydney junior, Jason Clark, who would start the game at lock.
Souths were required to show calm and composure to grind out a victory against the last placed Eels. With the match producing few points, the result would ultimately be determined by a conversion.
Opening points were secured by the Rabbitohs, as John Sutton rolled a well-weighted grubber kick in behind the Eels defensive line, with winger Aaron Gray flying through to claim the ball and score untouched. Isaac Luke’s conversion attempt was waved away, leaving South Sydney with a 4-0 advantage.
The Eels were next to score as they worked their way back into an attacking position. This allowed Luke Kelly to produce a dangerous last-tackle kick that was marked by Semi Radradra, who then passed to an unmarked Brad Takairangi, with the big centre diving over for a try out wide. An unsuccessful conversion meant that the scores were left at four apiece.
Despite the Rabbitohs securing opportunities to attack close to the opposition try line; Parramatta would claim the lead with Luke Kelly firing a bullet-pass out to the wing, linking up with Reece Robinson who scored in the corner. These would be the final points of the half, as the Eels headed to the break with an 8-4 lead in the wet conditions.
It was South Sydney who went straight on the attack in the second half, with the men in red and green looking dangerous close to the Parramatta try-line.
Despite the Rabbitohs piling on the pressure, the Eels managed to hold onto their lead until the 14th minute of the second period, until Aaron Gray dived over for this second try of the night off the back of a John Sutton offload. The conversion from Luke was unsuccessful, leaving the scores locked up at eight points apiece.
With 13 minutes left in the match, the Eels made the most of the horrid conditions, taking the aerial route on the final tackle to break the deadlock, as Manu Ma’u pounced on a loose ball in the Rabbitohs in-goal area to score. Despite Reece Robinson taking over the goal-kicking duties, the result remained the same, with Parramatta missing three conversions from three attempts for the match.
As the clock wound down, the Rabbitohs had momentum swing back in their favour, as a seemingly unthreatening kick down the flank from Bryson Goodwin could not be handled by Chris Sandow, who knocked the ball on.
The error would prove costly for the blue and gold’s, as South Sydney broke the Parramatta defensive line in the very next set, courtesy of young-gun Cameron McInnes, who touched down under the uprights. Isaac Luke made no mistake with the kick from directly in front, providing the only conversion for the night from six attempts and proving to be the difference between the two teams.