There were mixed results for the South Sydney Rabbitohs Harold Matthews and SG Ball Junior Representative sides in their Round 5 clashes with the Parramatta Eels
The Rabbitohs’ Harold Matthews claimed their fifth-straight win and remain undefeated after a dominant display against fellow top-four side, with winger Joshua Mocevakaca bagging a hat-trick.
It was a dream start for the Red and Green, who scored in their first set of the match as centre Faresa Palu took a pinpoint attacking bomb to give his side the lead just two minutes in.
Ill-discipline crept in mid-way through the first half, however, giving away three penalties in a row to hand the Eels momentum, who then scored two tries to take a 10-6 lead.
But the Cardinal and Myrtle showed they wouldn’t go down begging, as a backline shift late in the first half saw centre Luca Ace-Nasteski put away Mocevakaca into a gap, who put in some nice footwork to beat the fullback and score a nicely-crafted try. With the goal converted, the scores were locked up at half-time.
The second stanza began just as well as the first, as Mocevakaca bagged his double just a minute in – catching his opponents napping at dummy-half to score. Despite the sideline conversion narrowly missing, the Rabbitohs once again assumed the lead.
Quick-fire tries to Joseph Suaalii and Mocevakaca – who earned his hat-trick, gave the Cardinal and Myrtle a dominant 16-point lead going into the final quarter. The Eels struck back late in the contest, but the result was all sewn up as backup half Naati Teaupa stepped his way over the line to score the match-winner.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 32 (Joshua Mocevakaca 3, Faresa Palu, Joseph Suaalii, Naati Teaupa tries; Joseph Nohra 4 goals)
Parramatta Eels 14 (Jabriel Kalache, Tutonu Junior Wright, Joshua Lealaiauloto tries; Francis Faaofo Tuitino goals)
Playing at the Club’s spiritual ground, the SG Ball side showed plenty of promise in their Round 5 match, but were run down by the second-placed Eels in a hard-fought contest.
Conversely to the Harold Matts' side, it was a poor start for the Red and Green, making a handling error and giving away a penalty within the first two minutes of the match, which then saw Parramatta score an early try.
But momentum quickly swung around as hooker and captain Peter Mamouzelos took charge, splitting the defence open to link up with fullback Logan Aldridge, who dived over to score a well-crafted try in the 9th minute.
But Mamouzelos would soon go from hero to villain, spilling the ensuing kick-off to give the Eels another chance to strike, but the Red and Greens were let off as an obstruction penalty against the Eels eased the pressure.
The crafty hooker continued to control the tempo of the match, catching the Eels napping at dummy half to earn his side a penalty for being off-side and gain further territory downfield, but momentum was again cut off as the ball was lost on the ensuing set.
Errors to both sides prevented any momentum from being built, until a backline shift saw Aldridge in the clear again, drawing the last line of defence to send winger Daylen Meredith over to score soon after. Halfback Bradley Zampech landed the sideline conversion to give the Cardinal and Myrtle the lead.
Back-to-back penalties saw the Eels hit back out wide, levelling the scores with fifteen to go in the half.
A potential runaway try to the Eels was thwarted as an ankle tap forced an error, but again it was an individual effort which saw the Rabbitohs go in front, this time from Zampech, who dived over from dummy-half on last tackle to score a memorable four-pointer.
But they weren’t done there, as a barge-over try to hulking prop Tevita Taumoepenu after some clever offloading in the lead-up extended the lead even further, with a 22-10 scoreline at the break.
Much like the first half, the Eels struck after just a minute as winger Matthew Komolafe scored in the corner after backing up a number of offloads, with South Sydney's lead dropping to eight.
An unforgivable error from dummy-half on the line threatened to give the Eels further momentum before Zampech came to the rescue with a one-on-one strip.
But the Eels continued to probe, with a string of penalties over a tense period mid-way through the second half looking likely to see them score, but the persistent Rabbitohs were rewarded as an error in the play the ball from the Eels handed them much-needed possession.
Although Mamouzelos and Zampech continued to cause havoc, with lock forward Kye Black busy in both attack and defence, the hard work soon came undone as the Eels struck quickly in succession with halfback Jakob Arthur scoring a double to hand them the lead with less than ten minutes to go.
Things went from bad to worse as a dropped ball just metres from the try-line gave Parramatta another opportunity to strike, and they did so through hooker David Tui with the conversion giving them a 10-point advantage.
But the SG Ball side has shown plenty of character this season, and much as they have shown throughout the year, they refused to go down without a fight.
Mamouzelos again took control, scoring a swift try with three minutes to go to give his side a chance, which closed the gap to four points with Zampech’s conversion.
A tense last few minutes saw the Rabbitohs with plenty of opportunities to steal the match, but an error just metres from the line in the final minute told the tale of the tape – which handed Parramatta the victory.
Parramatta Eels 32 (Jakob Arthur 2, Trey Mooney, PenioniTohi, Matthew Komolafe, David Tui tries; Samuel Loizou 4 goals)
South Sydney Rabbitohs 28 (Peter Mamouzelos 2, Daylen Meredith, Bradley Zampech, Tevita Taumoepenu tries; Bradley Zampech 4 goals)
Both sides will now look forward to taking on arch-rivals the Sydney Roosters at Erskineville Oval next Saturday.