South Sydney have lost just their second match of the season, succumbing to Parramatta 26-14 at Bankwest Stadium tonight.
As seems to be custom in pre-Origin rounds, the match started slowly, with errors and penalties strewn across the opening twenty minutes before the Bunnies cracked the scoreboard first - indeed a penalty goal through Adam Reynolds.
In the 27th minute, Eels half Mitch Moses returned serve with a two-pointer to level scores, which seemingly opened the floodgates for the home team. Three minutes later Parramatta were able to capitalise on a Rabbitohs error and at the end of the following set, Clint Gutherson scored the first try of the match off a Moses grubber.
The hosts struck again before the break, Blake Ferguson scoring off a wild Moses flick pass he had to scoop up and get his way to the right edge to score.
Leading by twelve and with the lions share of 21,645 fans behind them, the Eels withstood an impressive early display from the Rabbitohs after halftime, preventing Connor Tracey and his side from getting over the line, instead surging back to the other end, and after a couple of sets camped on the South Sydney line, eventually the ball went wide for Maika Sivo to grab Parramatta's third try of the evening.
Needing something special to get back in the game, the Rabbitohs finally cracked the Eels' line through Thomas Burgess just short of the hour mark. His try close to the posts, converted by Reynolds, brought the margin back to two converted tries and gave the visitors a glimmer of hope.
It would be short-lived hope. Just three minutes later the Eels were in again with Josh Hoffman powering his way over down the Parramatta right wing. Two minutes later they may well have had another, but the last past that could have sent Blake Ferguson steaming down the touchline was wayward and the ball ended up somewhere in concourse.
The contest wound down from there, save for a small window of opportunity for the Bunnies after Tevita Tatola scored his maiden NRL try. The margin was back at 24-14 with five minutes left to play, but a Bayley Sironen error on the return set put paid to any hopes of a South Sydney miracle and the Eels held on, adding a late penalty goal to soak up time and finish the game as twelve-point winners.
Next weekend the Eels head to the Shire to take on the Sharks on Saturday evening, while the Bunnies will look to bounce back when they host the Knights in the early Friday match.