The South Sydney Rabbitohs Indigenous stars have once again shone brightest during Indigenous Round, with hat-tricks to Alex Johnston and Dane Gagai powering Souths to a 38 points to 20 victory over the Parramatta Eels at Stadium Australia on Saturday night.
The Rabbitohs deadly left side tormented the Eels all night, with Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell creating the opportunities for Gagai, and Johnston to finish, but it was likely the fact that the Rabbitohs played a much more disciplined and improved defensive effort compared to a week earlier that will please coach Wayne Bennett the most.
Match Highlights: Rabbitohs v Eels
The Rabbitohs got their first chance within the first minute when Clint Gutherson spilled the ball on Parramatta's first possession of the match, and it was Damien Cook that got Souths cooking when he sliced through from the ensuing scrum base and scored next to the posts.
Alex Johnston crossed next for the Rabbitohs in the 9th minute, finishing a typical Rabbitohs backline move down the left of the field with Johnstone crossing for his 9th four-pointer for the season.
Cam Murray was placed on report for a crusher tackle in the 14th minute which could put his position in the upcoming State of Origin match in doubt, but the consequences were more immediate as the Eels scored on the ensuing set when Clint Gutherson collected a Jakob Arthur kick which took a wicked bounce into the Parramatta fullbacks grasp.
Isaiah Papali'i was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul in the 23rd minute, and the Rabbitohs made them pay, with a carbon copy their last try; an all-indigenous move down the left that went through the hands of Cody Walker to Dane Gagai before Alex Johnston finished it off.
Dane Gagai got in on the try-scoring action himself just before halftime with Cody Walker again all over the play, providing a great short pass to create the opportunity for Gagai to burst through a gap, and at half time the score was 20 points to 6 with the Rabbitohs in control.
Match: Rabbitohs v Eels
Round 12 -
Venue: Stadium Australia, Sydney
Gagai made it a double of his own to open the scoring in the second half pouring onto a ball once again from Cody Walker following a scrum base move.
Ryan Matterson was the second Eel sent to the sin bin after a high shot on Junior Tatola was placed on report, but the Eels manage to be the next to score despite being a man down, through the man who was sent to the bin in the first half, Isaiah Papali'i, but Alex Johnston responded with his third of the match before the 10 minutes was out.
Gagai made it a hat trick of his own in the 67th minute, and Mika Sivo and Jakob Arthur both scored consolation tries for the Eels late in the match, but at the end of 80 minutes, the Rabbitohs were back in the winner's circle once again.