Eels v Rabbitohs preview
Parramatta Eels v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Can anything stop the South Sydney juggernaut? One thing's for sure, the Parramatta side that we saw fall 22-0 behind in 22 minutes in Auckland last weekend is no chance.
However the Eels side that blitzed Manly on their home patch in Round 1 on the back of a physical, young and intimidating forward pack aiming up may just be a chance – it just depends which Eels side we get.
For their part the Bunnies just keep on keeping on. A willing Wests Tigers well and truly took the fight to them last week, but it never quite looked like being enough as the Rabbitohs – on the back of a two-try performance from centre Dylan Walker, battling on with a broken hand – ground them out of the contest.
It's a Rabbitohs side that seems to have forgotten how to lose and it will be a massive ask for the Eels to stay with them on Friday night.
The Eels are unchanged from the side that fought back to 29-16 against the Warriors this week, while Souths have brought in former Bulldog Daryl Millard for his club debut in place of Walker.
Watch out Eels: New club captain Greg Inglis has really hit the ground running this year after a massive 2014, averaging 161 metres per game with 10 tackle breaks, three line breaks, four line break assists, three try assists and two tries. His remarkable effort in his own in-goal to beat several defenders and send winger Alex Johnston away for a 110-metre try in that thrilling win over the Roosters in Round 2 was simply freakish.
Watch out Rabbitohs: Eels five-eighth Corey Norman has been in career-best form this year. After being named in the Auckland Nines team of the tournament, Norman has been laying on some superb tries for the Eels with slick passing, deft kicking and some very quick tap-ons. His four try assists so far this year is only one behind front runners Adam Reynolds and Daly Cherry-Evans.
Key Match-Up: The current Bunnies playmakers v the former Bunnies playmakers. There was controversy aplenty when Parramatta nabbed popular and enigmatic South Sydney halfback Chris Sandow on a big-money deal but the Redfern faithful got over that with the emergence of star halfback Adam Reynolds. Meanwhile Nathan Peats, sick of being stuck behind Kiwi Test rake Issac Luke, departed Redfern for Parramatta to prove himself as an 80-minute No.9. The feisty hooker still has plenty of mates at the Rabbitohs but there will be no love lost when he runs out on Friday night.
The History: Played 118; Eels 50, Rabbitohs 65, Drawn 3. It's very ugly reading for Eels fans against the Rabbitohs in recent times, who are on a seven-game, five-year winning run against the blue-and-golds. In some ways it's not surprising – the Bunnies have been a powerhouse of late while the Eels have been in the doldrums since their 2009 Grand Final loss. But the losing run extends back past when Souths were a winning side; in 2010 and 2011 they missed the finals and were still far too good for Parramatta, whose last win against the cardinal and myrtle was a 22-8 win in early 2010. Souths have averaged 34 points per game to Parramatta's 10 in that time, for a combined score of 236-74. Ouch.
What Are The Odds: Eels $3.20 v Rabbitohs $1.35. A huge 90 per cent of money has come for the Rabbitohs in what Sportsbet punters have identified as the bet of the round. Even at the line of -7.5, South Sydney have been backed off the map. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au
Match Officials: Referee: Ben Cummins. Assistant referee: Alan Shortall. Touch judges: Nick Beashel and Rick MacFarlane. Video Referees: Bernard Sutton and Luke Patten.
Televised: Channel Nine, Live, 7.30pm.
The Way We See It: There's not a lot to be optimistic about for Eels fans in terms of the recent form of both sides or recent history between the two teams. Rabbitohs 13+.