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Eels fullback Clint Gutherson.

Eels coach Brad Arthur is pleased with the way his side responded to four players getting dropped but hopes not to have to make that his go-to strategy.

Arthur discarded winger George Jennings, popular long-serving prop Tim Mannah and bench forwards Daniel Alvaro and Brad Takairangi after the team's capitulation at home to Penrith in round 11.

He got the response he was after, with a physical opening in an eventual 26-14 win over an under-strength Rabbitohs marked by mostly energetic defence and a refusal to let a raft of 50-50 calls against them or a failure to capitalise on early chances get in their heads.

"I'm not real pleased I have to do that [drop players] to get a response," Arthur said.

"We showed with our energy and effort we put into our game tonight – I know they had some quality missing but we gave ourselves a chance and over the last two weeks or three weeks that's been lacking and we haven't really put ourselves in the contest.

"The physicality to start the game, we knew they'd come at us really hard to see if we were dipping the toe in or going to have a crack.

Match Highlights: Eels v Rabbitohs

"We had a couple of shots down at their try-line, the boys backed themselves which was good but on the back of not getting a reward or coming away empty we defended well and made them have to kick from inside their half."

While hopeful the situation won't arise again anytime soon, Arthur said he would continue to change the team to get a response if needed.

"We've got to challenge the players about having that want and desire to do that week-in, week-out," he said.

Moses breaks through for Ferguson to score

The mental discipline was much stronger than it had been over the previous three losses.

"That was pleasing because I thought there was quite a few calls that went against us," Arthur said.

"We decided we wanted to be better defensively tonight. There were still a couple of soft tries under the posts but I thought defence paved the way for putting some points on in a tough win.

"The priority is backing it up next week now, We go to Shark Park, they're a tough grinding team so we need to be right on top of our game.

"We're nearly at full strength, we've got a couple of blokes that aren't far away from coming back into the team ... Nathan Brown's getting close then Dylan [Brown] is a couple of weeks after that."

 

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