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Magnificent Johnston sinks Eels in the wet

An Alex Johnston masterclass in the first half has propelled the South Sydney Rabbitohs to a 30-12 win over the Parramatta Eels at Accor Stadium.

The NRL’s leading tryscorer added another two to his tally for the season, but it was his effort right on the stroke of halftime that helped swing the game back in South Sydney’s favour.

Perfect start for Souths

Trailing 12-6, the Eels looked for last-ditch points down their right-hand flank, but inside defensive pressure from Kodi Nikorima forced an errant pass from Mitch Moses, allowing Johnston to snatch and intercept and run the best part of 50 metres to give the Rabbitohs a two-try lead at the break.

It was a sign of the attitude they had from the opening whistle, a stark contrast to their last outing against St George Illawarra.

The Rabbitohs came out of the blocks hard, and it was the left side that again yielded first points, with Cody Walker linking to perfection with Johnston to score inside the opening five minutes, making full use of the wet conditions to slide over in the corner.

That lead was extended with some innovative play to keep the ball alive, culminating in a Jaxson Paulo cross-field kick finding Isaiah Tass, who provided a miracle offload to Jai Arrow to get across the stripe.

Parramatta hit back in the 21st minute through Clint Gutherson, and started to build some momentum to close out the half, before Johnston’s second put a halt to that.

South Sydney used a territory advantage to stifle the Eels attack in the first 40, holding 55 percent of possession in the process.

The second half wasn’t quite as free-flowing, with the conditions getting the better of both teams coming out of the sheds.

Jumping Johnston

Damien Cook had the best opportunity to extend the lead in the 56th minute when almost darting his way over from dummy half, only to be stopped just inches from the goal line.

Approaching the final 20 minutes of the contest, the Rabbitohs were dealt a further blow with Mark Nicholls failing a HIA, taking them down to 15 fit men after Hame Sele went off in the first 20.

The shackles were broken soon after however, with a huge Campbell Graham hit forcing a mistake.

It was backed up on the next set, with Latrell Mitchell putting Graham into space, who ultimately gave Paulo an easy passage to the line and Souths a very handy 24-6 advantage.

Minutes later it was game, set match, as Mitchell stamped his return to the NRL in style, steamrolling Reed Mahoney, linking up with Ilias who then found Cook to put the exclamation mark on a fine performance.

The win gives South Sydney a bit of breathing room in the top eight, will look to make it back-to-back wins when heading to Newcastle to take on the Knights on Friday night.

Acknowledgement of Country

South Sydney Rabbitohs respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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