Rabbitohs dig deep to beat stubborn Eels
South Sydney have survived a scare to overcome a 14-point deficit and beat cellar dwellers Parramatta 26-20 at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
The Eels took advantage of playing with an extra man in the opening half to stroll to an 18-6 lead after Rabbitohs centre Hymel Hunt was sent to the sin-bin, stunning the pro-Rabbitohs crowd, who were celebrating John Sutton's 300th NRL appearance last week.
But the Bunnies worked their way back into the contest in the second half to lay on two quick tries before Dane Gagai's try with 12 minutes remaining gave the home team a two-point lead.
Souths moved to the top of the Telstra Premiership ladder temporarily with the victory but Rabbitohs coach Anthony Siebold will not be happy with his side's overall performance.
For the Eels, who were forced to play with 16 for most of the contest with Kaysa Pritchard leaving the field with a shoulder injury, it added more misery on the club looking to avoid the wooden spoon in 2018.
Pritchard came off second best in a tackle on Rabbitohs prop Tom Burgess and club doctors spent the opening half trying to pop the shoulder back into place. He'll have scans on Sunday to determine the extent of any structural damage.
South Sydney struck first with Damien Cook providing a crisp short ball for Gagai to cross for his first of the night, but the Rabbitohs were forced to defend their tails for the remainder of the first half as the Eels gained the upper hand.
Match: Rabbitohs vs Eels
Round 20 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Hunt was sent to the sin-bin after the Bunnies conceded five consecutive penalties on their line.
Parramatta took advantage of the extra man on the paddock to pile on two tries. Clint Gutherson landed on a Corey Norman cross-field kick before Hayne found open space on the back of a Peni Terepo short ball to weave his way around Alex Johnston in vintage fashion.
The momentum continued before the break with veteran centre Michael Jennings winding back the clock to wrestle past Hunt and score the visitors' third.
Both sides were denied close calls that led to tries in the second half which sparked the contest late in the game.
Hayne plucked a South Sydney pass out of the air to race 90 metres to score under the posts until replays showed a slight knock-on in the lead up.
The Rabbitohs were then denied a four-pointer of their own with Cody Walker touching down millimetres short of the try-line.
A strong hit from Sam Burgess on Terepo helped inspire his teammates and propel them to their fast finish.
Norman was next to be binned with the Eels penalised multiple times on their line in a huge game-changer. Graham sealed the win in the final minute with his second try in the corner.
News and Notes: Kaysa Pritchard (shoulder) left the field in the sixth minute ... Dane Gagai scored his first double since Round 1, 2015 ... Adam Reynolds became the second high point scorer in South Sydney's history ... Crowd: 15542.