Parramatta coach Brad Arthur indicated that the decision to shift centre Waqa Blake from the right side to the left was set to become permanent after admitting that his combination with winger Blake Ferguson wasn’t working.
Blake switched sides with Tom Opacic for Saturday night’s match with South Sydney but the move had little impact on the Rabbitohs' potent left edge, with centre Dane Gagai and winger Alex Johnston crossing for three tries each.
However, Arthur suggested the decision to shift Blake to the side wasn’t made solely because of concerns over Parramatta’s right-side defence containing the likes of Cody Walker, Latrell Mitchell, Gagai and Johnston.
“I just thought, to be really honest, that it hasn’t been working between Fergo and Waqa,” Arthur said. “Sometimes some things just don’t work. We spent the whole back end of last season and it didn’t work so we just decided to make the change.”
Arthur places it, Gutherson scores it
The Rabbitohs repeatedly looked to target the Eels' right-side defence in the 38-20 win at Stadium Australia on Saturday night and were rewarded with six of their seven tries being scored on that edge.
“That’s their strong edge obviously, but we have got to do some work there,” Arthur said.
“It was like touch footy, it was too quick at times and they were just getting there way too easy. We have got to make sure we are doing better with our tackles and slow it down so we can get our line set.”
Discipline also cost the Eels after losing two players to the sin bin for the second consecutive match and, just as in last weekend’s 28-6 loss to Manly, they never recovered.
Match Highlights: Rabbitohs v Eels
Isaiah Papali’i was sin-binned for a professional foul in the first half with the Rabbitohs leading 10-6, and Parramatta were again forced to defend with 12 men during the second half after Ryan Matterson received a 10-minute stint in the dressing room for a high tackle.
Matterson was one of three Eels players placed on report, along with hooker Reed Mahoney (dangerous contact) and forward Nathan Brown, who was twice reported for crusher tackles.
“I think it is determining a lot of games but it is what it is and we have just got to work out how to best handle it,” Arthur said.
“When you have got 12 men you have got to make sure you keep possession because if you are just tackling it becomes way too quick and then when you get back to 13 it is hard to recover.
Milne spills a bomb and Sivo ends up with a try in the corner
“I have to look at the tackles more closely but we are certainly not going out there to try and target anyone in the head. We know what the responsibilities are and the accountability about what happens with it, and the consequences, but all teams have just got to keep adapting I suppose.
“It is fast and it's hard and everyone knows that if we spend 20 minutes with 12 players, it is hard enough with 13 players. No one is going out there deliberately to cost their team.”