Rabbitohs v Eels: Bunnies unchanged; Hayne swaps to wing
It was first versus last when they met in round 15 and that's pretty much where they sit with six games remaining, with Souths behind only the Dragons and Melbourne on for-and-against percentages.
The Rabbitohs' nine-game winning streak was snapped in a surprise 22-6 loss to the Tigers last week, but that shouldn't stop them aiming for anything less than the minor premiership at this late stage of the season.
Ironically, the Eels are last-start winners, claiming just their fourth victory of the season with last's scrappy 14-8 defeat of fellow also-rans Canterbury.
The Eels scored three tries to the Bunnies' one in the first 23 minutes of that round 15 clash before Souths caught fire with six unanswered tries en route to a 42-24 triumph. If Parra can defend a bit better than they did that evening and score a similar amount of points, they are capable of giving Rabbitohs a proper scare.
Match: Rabbitohs v Eels
Round 20 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Key match-up: Adam Reynolds has had consistency issues in recent years, but not this season. His you-do-your-bit-and-I'll-do-mine combination with Cody Walker has been a major factor in the Rabbitohs' ascension to the top of the ladder. They take turns doing their thing and have formed arguably the most effective halves duo in the competition. It's a big challenge for Mitch Moses and Corey Norman but the Eels' chances of springing a monumental upset will be a lot greater if Moses and Norman can over-shadow Reynolds and Walker.
For the Rabbitohs to win: No need to shift away from a formula that might've taken a month or so to click but has since proven to be highly effective, barring last week's loss to the Tigers. The Bunnies' big blokes up front make it hard for your forwards before their fleet-footed backs terrorise your backs, usually down their deadly left side. If the Eels aren't switched on defensively for 80 minutes they could be in serious trouble.
For the Eels to win: They found out the hard way in round 15 that a 35-minute effort doesn't cut it against the Bunnies. The Eels need to resort to every niggling, disruptive tactic in the book to keep the competition leaders from settling into a comfortable rhythm at any stage. If they can somehow frustrate the Rabbitohs and draw them into a close game, Parra might be a chance of pinching it.
Rabbitohs Stat Attack: Robert Jennings is the Telstra Premiership's leading tryscorer this season and has crossed six times in his past two games against Parramatta.
Eels Stat Attack: Halfback Mitchell Moses will bring up 100 NRL games on Saturday.
And another thing: Of all the attacking threats the Rabbitohs possess, maybe the greatest concern for the Eels is the dazzling form of winger Robert Jennings. His confidence grows with every game and Parra won't have forgotten how he tortured them with a four-try haul in the previous meeting. With his brothers Michael and George lining up for the Eels, the tight-knit Jennings clan will be out in force on Saturday night at ANZ Stadium.
Fullback for Rabbitohs is number 1 Alex JohnstonFullback for Eels is number 1 Clinton Gutherson
Winger for Rabbitohs is number 2 Campbell GrahamWinger for Eels is number 2 Bevan French
Centre for Rabbitohs is number 3 Hymel HuntCentre for Eels is number 3 Michael Jennings
Centre for Rabbitohs is number 4 Dane GagaiCentre for Eels is number 4 Brad Takairangi
Winger for Rabbitohs is number 5 Robert JenningsWinger for Eels is number 5 Jarryd Hayne
Five-Eighth for Rabbitohs is number 6 Cody WalkerFive-Eighth for Eels is number 6 Corey Norman
Halfback for Rabbitohs is number 7 Adam ReynoldsHalfback for Eels is number 7 Mitchell Moses
Prop for Rabbitohs is number 8 Thomas BurgessProp for Eels is number 8 Daniel Alvaro
Hooker for Rabbitohs is number 9 Damien CookHooker for Eels is number 9 Kaysa Pritchard
Prop for Rabbitohs is number 10 George BurgessProp for Eels is number 10 Siosaia Vave
2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 11 John Sutton2nd Row for Eels is number 11 Marata Niukore
2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 12 Angus Crichton2nd Row for Eels is number 12 Tepai Moeroa
Lock for Rabbitohs is number 13 Sam BurgessLock for Eels is number 13 Nathan Brown
Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 14 Adam DoueihiInterchange for Eels is number 14 Reed Mahoney
Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 15 Cameron MurrayInterchange for Eels is number 15 Tim Mannah
Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 16 Jason ClarkInterchange for Eels is number 16 David Gower
Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 17 Tevita TatolaInterchange for Eels is number 17 Peni Terepo
Rabbitohs: The Rabbitohs are 1-17, naming an unchanged squad. The Bunnies are aiming to bounce back after last week's surprise loss to the Wests Tigers.
Eels: David Gower returns on the bench replacing George Jennings in the 17, with Tepai Moeroa starting in the second row, Brad Takairangi moving from the bench to centre and Jarryd Hayne from centre to wing.
Head-to-head: Played 124; Rabbitohs 67 wins, Eels 54 wins, 3 draws
Previous result: Rabbitohs won 42-24 at ANZ Stadium in round 15
Points per game: Rabbitohs 23.9; Eels 14.8
Points conceded per game: Rabbitohs 17.1; Eels 22.2
Televised: Live on Nine, Fox League
Petero Civoniceva's prediction: The Rabbitohs would've been disappointed that they weren't able to make John Sutton's 300th game a winning occasion last week against the Tigers. They'll also be hurting that their winning streak came to an end and I can see them bouncing back in a big way this week. The Eels finally got another win last week but it's hard to see them causing an upset.
Tip: Rabbitohs by 14