The young Rabbitohs have claimed a massive victory over the Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium tonight, beating the visiting team 28-26 in a back and forth affair.
Despite a brilliant performance against the Storm at Redfern Oval last weekend, the young Rabbitohs took the field as firm underdogs against a young Eels team in hot form. Five-eighth Adam Doueihi returned to the Rabbitohs under 20s squad after a stint with the North Sydney Bears to help the Rabbitohs face off with the 4th placed Eels.
The Rabbitohs would start the contest strongly, placing the Eels under pressure from the kick-off and holding them there until the 9th minute when Adam Doueihi would take a chance to run the ball and slip through the Eels defence to score. He would convert his own effort to give the Rabbitohs a 6-0 lead.
The Eels would come close to returning the favour in the 14th minute after a Rabbitohs handling error in their own half would place the home side under plenty of pressure. A solid defensive effort helped the Rabbitohs maintain their lead and box out the Eels left edge – forcing centre Noel Aukafolau to handover the ball after being caught out on the last tackle.
Another chance would fall to the Eels in the 20th minute after a stripping penalty on the Rabbitohs 40m line would invite the visiting team deep into Souths territory. This time they’d make it count with Reed Mahoney throwing a quick inside ball to oncoming prop Sean Keppie to crash over under the posts. Fullback Anthony Layoun would add the extras and parity would be restored at 6-all in the NYC clash.
A high shot on Gabe Hamlin in the 26th minute would start the movements for the Rabbitohs next points, the young Rabbitohs taking the tap and marching deep into Eels territory in one set. Adam Doueihi’s attacking grubber would graze the post and prove too hard to clean up for the Eels with Theo Hippi pouncing on the loose ball to score. Doueihi converted and the Rabbitohs reclaimed the lead at 12-6.
The contest would stay neck and neck; Parramatta would attack the Rabbitohs right side defence and find a gap with Filia Utoikamanu crashing over to score. Layoun converted a difficult kick from the touchline to level it at 12-all after 36 minutes.
The Parramatta Eels would come out strongly in the second half, piling the pressure on the Rabbitohs before scoring a freakish try through interchange player Beni Valu. Reed Mahoney would put in a low hard kick across the face of the tryline, the ball travelled 3 metres into the arms of Valu to crash over the tryline. It was excellent and frankly unnecessary. Eels led 16-12.
Not to be outdone, a piece of individual brilliance by Beau Cordtz would put the Rabbitohs back in the driver seat - the fullback stepping his way through five Eels defenders and travelling 30 metres to score near the posts. Adam Doueihi converted and the Rabbitohs would reclaim the lead 18-16 after 50 minutes.
Beau Cordtz would double his contribution only 5 minutes later, creating numbers on the left edge and finding his way over the tryline. Adam Doueihi couldn’t convert this one from out wide and the Rabbitohs would open a six-point lead on the Eels.
With the momentum swing firmly in the young Rabbitohs favour, halfback Dean Hawkins would cross again for the Rabbitohs only two minutes afterwards. Hawkins would be in the right place at the right time as a Souths attacking grubber would bounce back off the post and into his arms to score easily under the posts. Doueihi converted and the Rabbitohs took a strong 28-16 lead into the final quarter.
The Parramatta Eels would mount their comeback in the 68th minute, Reed Mahoney darting from dummy half to cross under the posts. Mitch Butfield took the conversion attempt and slotted it through the uprights. Eels only six points behind at 28-22.
With 9 minutes left on the clock the Parramatta Eels would score again in the corner through Dean Matterson but miss the chance to equal the scores at Mitch Butfield failed to convert his kick from the touchlines.
The pressure was too real at this point.
The Eels continued their onslaught but brave defending from the Rabbitohs managed to hold them out until the final whistle. Souths left the field with two points thanks to a margin of… two points!
Souths 28 (Beau Cordtz 2, Adam Doueihi, Theo Hippi, Dean Hawkins tries; Adam Doueihi 4 goals)
Eels 26 (Sean Keppie, Fili Utoikamanu, Beni Valu, Reed Mahoney, Dean Matterson tries; Anthony Layoun 2, Mitch Butfield goals)