Billed as a monumental clash and potentially the game of the round, it lived up to its billing, with the Parramatta Eels producing their best game of the season to defeat the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
The Bunnies, who were undefeated in 6 months and this season so far, were overpowered by an Eels side determined to win and producing resolute defence.
It was a late field-goal from Chris Sandow that sealed the win for the Eels, before a final last-second try put the icing on the cake for the home side.
It makes two wins from two at home, as the Eels home form continues to increase with an aim to make Pirtek Stadium a fortress.
An arm wrestle of a match until the very end, dogged determination, brute force and a bit of skill, proved to be the match-winner for the Eels.
Impressing were man-of-the-match Chris Sandow and youngster John Folau, who scored a quality solo try when he backed himself to score & carried four defenders over the line.
Despite the Eels win, there are still elements of their game to work on. Reece Robinson was put on report for a dangerous throw, Brad Takairangi will have scans on a knee injury and Will Hopoate had some nervous moments under the high ball.
The win pleased Eels coach Brad Arthur but he knows that sort of intensity and attitude is now needed away from home.
“I’m hoping that’s going to be a turning point for us,” Arthur said.
“But we need to find that same attitude and that same energy away from Parramatta Stadium. We’ve showed if we complete our sets and make our tackles we can mix it with any team in the competition… but we’ve got to have that attitude away from home.”
The win was the first time the Eels have beaten Souths since 2010 and the first time Chris Sandow has recorded a win against his former club.
With some talk that a loss had to come at some point, Souths coach Michael Maguire said it was not something the club talked about.
“You guys are talking about it, but within â€“ we’ve had a bit of a chat about that performance [tonight] and it’s not what we live up to so we’ll look at where we go from here,” said Maguire.
Despite a rough night at the office under the high ball for Hopoate, Arthur was pleased with his efforts and knows he will only get better in the role.
“He’s been getting better every week,” Arthur said of his fullback-in-progress.
“Some of those kicks that Reynolds put up were pretty tough for anyone to catch but to Hop’s credit he didn’t shy away from what he needed to do, he kept aiming up for us so he’s still got some things and he’s still learning the role but I’m happy with him.”
Player of the Game:
3. Chris Sandow
2. Thomas Burgess
1. David Gower
Parramatta Eels 29 (John Folau 2, Reece Robinson 2, Chris Sandow tries; Chris Sandow 3 goals; Chris Sandow field goal) def South Sydney Rabbitohs 16 (Joel Reddy, Chris Grevsmuhl, Alex Johnston tries; Adam Reynolds 2 goals). Crowd: 15,562. Halftime: Eels 14-12. On report: Glenn Stewart, Reece Robinson.