The South Sydney Rabbitohs NYC have fallen to a determined Parramatta Eels outfit 40 points to 26 tonight at ANZ Stadium.
The Young Rabbitohs had the task of overcoming the 5th placed Eels in order to solidify their place in the finals, and would have to do so without winger Tyrone Taukamo, star five-eighth Adam Doueihi, as well as backrower Sifa Talakai, who would be playing in the NRL side.
Despite giving away a penalty on halfway to the Eels early on, the Rabbitohs would score first through Malachi Morgan in the 4th minute after a 90 metre break from Nic Mougios off an Eels kick. Halfback Dean Hawkins would continue his rich form with the boot by kicking the conversion from the sideline.
A penalty for a high tackle on lock Gabe Hamlin would provide the perfect platform for the team to capitalise, and a switch play from Harry Leddy at dummy half sent prop Henry-Siriah Fuimaono to crash over in the 26th minute. Hawkins would convert the try to give the Red and Greens a 12-point lead.
Another penalty on Hamlin would add another two points to the scoresheet, with the Young Rabbitohs opting for a penalty goal, which was converted by Hawkins.
A dropped ball off the first set of the ensuing kickoff would hand the Eels some much needed momentum, however some desperate scrambling defence would hold off their efforts.
However, the Eels would not be contained for long after a break by winger Greg Leleisiuao would lead to a Noel Aukafolau try just ten minutes from halftime.
Parramatta would strike back in the next two minutes through second rower Ray Stone after a break from halfback Troy Dargan. Custodian Dylan Brown would convert to bring the Eels back within four points with seven minutes left to go in the half.
The Eels would send a scare in the Rabbitohs camp by nearly scoring again on the next set, however they would lose possession just five metres out from the try line after some ad lib play, relieving plenty of pressure off the Cardinal and Myrtles.
Some much needed luck would go the way of the Rabbitohs just a few sets later, with a poorly executed bomb coming off the hands of an Eels player, gifting the side six more tackles.
A clever deft kick from Beau Cordtz would earn a repeat set, and off the back of a monstrous run from Jordan Mailata, captain Kalani Ili would take charge and plant the ball by the fingertips to get the Rabbitohs back in front.
Dean Hawkins then plotted the goal with thirty seconds left to give the side a 10-point buffer at the break.
The second half would start off with the Rabbitohs making a strong charge upfield, but then giving away a penalty to the Eels on the first tackle.
After some expansive play, Parramatta would crash over through Ray Stone once again, with Dylan Brown converting the try, bringing the contest back to a four-point difference once again.
A dropped ball off the kickoff would invite the Rabbitohs back in, however some poor communication would see the Eels regain possession after a few loose passes.
The errors would continue to flow from the Young Rabbitohs, which gave Parramatta more opportunities to score, however the Red and Green defence would keep their composure to prevent any raids from coming off.
Quick play the balls from the Eels would force the Rabbitohs to try slow them down, leading to a slow release penalty on halfway, and the next set would see Parramatta take the lead for the first time with a second try to Aukafolau in the 55th minute. The try would be converted giving the Eels the lead for the first time in the match.
Fatigue would set in for the Rabbitohs, as the Eels would take advantage of the tiring defence and would crash over through Reed Mahoney, with Brown converting the try with less than a quarter of the game to go.
The Eels looked to score once again by sending the ball through the hands off the kickoff, however an obstruction penalty would give the Young Rabbitohs a chance to make a trick shot and opt for a weighted kick downfield to be regathered, however the Eels would reach it first and ground the ball in the in-goal, which then lead them to kicking a dropout 20 metres out.
The quick tempo of the Parramatta attack would keep the Rabbitohs on their feet, who would capitalise through a Harry Leddy linebreak, and a deft cross-field kick from Dean Hawkins would see Malachi Morgan cash in once again on the right flank.
Parramatta would continue the back and forth trend of the match with Ray Stone going in for his third try with just over ten minutes to go. Brown would convert the try to give the Eels a eight-point margin.
A few sets later ricocheted kick off on to boot of Dylan O’Connor nearly saw the fleet-footed centre streak away only for him to be bundled into touch, and with the Eels regaining possession in their own half, with Stone collecting his fourth try of the night through sheer determination and power.
Despite a determined performance, the Young Rabbitohs would fall to the Eels 40 points to 26.
Eels 40 (Noel Aukafolau 2, Ray Stone 4, Reed Mahoney tries, Dylan Brown 6 goals)
Rabbitohs 26 (Malachi Morgan 2, Henry-Siriah Fuimaono, Kalani Ili tries, Dean Hawkins 5 goals)