2021 NRLW Playing Squads
5 months ago | LeagueUnlimited Media
Stalling Eels look to get back on track against a red-hot Souths outfit
What a difference 2 weeks can make in Rugby League.
Before their Round 19 game against the Raiders a fortnight ago, the Eels were sitting pretty in the top 4, 4 points clear of 5th place and, despite an incredibly tough run home, it seemed it would take a mighty capitulation for them to undo all their hard work and miss the top 4.
Since then, they've lost both their games (the ones that they were expected to win), and they've scored a pathetic 10 cumulative points. Granted, they were without Mitch Moses, but can 1 man really make all the difference?
Eels fans will certainly be hoping so as they prepare to take on a South Sydney side coming off 2 huge wins, albeit against teams who will likely not feature in the finals. Remember how the Eels have scored a combined 10 points in the last 2 weeks? The Rabbitohs have scored 110. A full century more.
This should signal a clear outcome, and it does in the minds of many, however Souths are not perfect. 2 weeks ago, against the Warriors, they let in 22 points while missing Tuivasa-Sheck and Wayde Egan. Souths points conceded in the highest of any team in the top 4 at 382, significantly higher than the Eels' figure of 295.
What I'm getting at is that while Souths' attack will present a huge challenge to the Eels, their defence isn't of the same calibre, and if Parramatta are to find form with the ball again it could definitely come up against this South Sydney side.
In team news, Mitchell Moses is back, and carrying the weight of the entire Eels fanbase on his shoulders. His return sees Jakob Arthur drop out of the side, while Reagan Campbell-Gillard won't feature after suffering a groin injury last week. Taking his place as starter is Oregon Kaufusi, while Bryce Cartwright will come onto the bench. Marata Niukore is also back from a knee injury, forcing Ray Stone out of the side.
For the Rabbitohs, star lock forward Cameron Murray is back from injury, pushing Jai Arrow to the back row and Jaydn Su'A to the bench and Moale out of the side. There are a host of changes on the South Sydney interchange, with Marshall and Tatola returning in place of Mago and Taafe. Liam Knight and Campbell Graham remain sidelined due to concussion protocols.
Last meeting: Round 12 2021 - Rabbitohs 38 Eels 20
Who to watch: It goes without saying, but all eyes will be on Mitchell Moses and his ability to resurrect an Eels attack not showing any signs of life at the moment. Against the Roosters last week, the Eels game plan inside the red zone consisted of pass it out wide, and then kick and hope they make a mistake, with very little structure. Last time the Eels played Souths they were missing Dylan Brown, and all 4 of their tries came off kicks. The Eels would certainly take it if they could do that again and grind out a victory with their defence, but they wouldn't turn down an improved attacking showing from both Moses and Brown either.
For the Rabbitohs, Tom Burgess continues to step up as a leader in the Rabbitohs forward pack. Last week, he had 16 runs for a whopping 202 metres (71 post contact), including one where he was tackled inches short of the try line in the shadows of fulltime. He also amassed 4 tackle breaks and an offload, while also making 22 tackles and missing just 1. Burgess will again have his work cut out for him this week against the likes of Paulo, Papali'I and Brown. Look for him to lay an excellent platform for Cody Walker and the like, who were extremely dangerous, particularly on the left, the last time these two sides met.
The favourite: The Rabbitohs are favoured by 8 and a half points at the time of writing.
My tip: The Eels will put up more points this week with the inclusion of Mitchell Moses, but it won't be nearly enough to cover for their severe defensive deficiencies, particularly on the edges. Souths by 16.
1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Tom Opacic 4. Waqa Blake 18. Haze Dunster 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Oregon Kaufusi 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Isaiah Papali'i 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Nathan Brown 14. Bryce Cartwright 15. Shaun Lane 16. Marata Niukore 17. Will Smith 19. Ray Stone
1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dane Gagai 4. Taane Milne 5. Jaxson Paulo 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Mark Nicholls 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jai Arrow 13. Cameron Murray 14. Benji Marshall 15. Jacob Host 16. Tevita Tatola 17. Jaydn Su'A 18. Braidon Burns
Referees: Ashley Klein; Sideline Officials: Todd Smith, Jon Stone; Video Referees: Henry Perenara;