NRL Round 12: Eels v Rabbitohs Preview & Betting Tips
Unaffected by Origin, the Eels will never have a better chance of defeating a decimated Rabbitohs than tonight’s match.
Parramatta Eels v South Sydney Rabbitohs Bankwest Stadium – 7.55pm
Nothing went right for Parramatta in their 16-10 loss to Penrith – the Eels were unable to get their attack flowing against one of NRL’s worst defences this season and found themselves losing their unbeaten run at Bankwest Stadium. Coach Brad Arthur has been unafraid to roll the selection dice recently and he did so again in shifting Blake Ferguson into centre, unfortunately though all he got were snake eyes.
Ferguson started the season in electric form and appeared to be a recruit of the year candidate but has notably slipped away over the last month and making four handling errors is hardly the payoff for someone who perhaps half-joked to coach Arthur he is the world’s best centre. The form slump sees Ferguson denied an Origin call-up and instead free to play a decimated Souths side.
The Eels’ woeful completion rate (68%) and inability to convert possession advantage into points cost them any hope of victory and means their Souths clash becomes must-win for a side needing to regain lost momentum. With Clint Gutherson re-signed, halfback Mitchell Moses is now their biggest name off-contract and the Eels will need their big-money playmaker to show the form from his first two matches at Bankwest and not from last start. Souths’ remaining strength from being gutted with Origin unavailability and nightmare injury list lies in their forwards – notably the Burgess brothers – and Bunnies coach Wayne Bennett knows better than any other coach how to deal with Origin season. Parramatta’s forwards need to improve their game and ensure the Eels’ losing streak ends this round.
With State of Origin taking most of the rugby league spotlight, it might be easy to overlook what could be the most impressive opening 11 game run in recent NRL history by the Bunnies. It’s incredible to think they’re a Daly Cherry-Evans field goal away from a potential 11-0 start and their start gets even greater when considering their lengthy injury toll including the retirement of their inspirational leader Greg Inglis.
Souths’ 32-16 win over the Tigers saw them avoid a banana skin against a tricky opponent who have made a habit of upsetting fancied sides. Cameron Murray cemented his NSW Origin debut with a two try performance, where he’ll be joined by fellow Blues newcomer Cody Walker and NRL’s best hooker Damien Cook. It’s no coincidence South Sydney’s table-topping season start has come off the back of these three stars in career-best form under coach Wayne Bennett. Souths have the roster to compete for a Premiership but their biggest strength so far has been getting the job done regardless of who’s missing and who’s playing in what makeshift position.
The perfect example might be Ethan Lowe, the backrower who Souths signed late in pre-season essentially for a song off North Queensland. Lowe was languishing in second-tier competition and the back-rower’s NRL career looked in jeopardy. Instead Souths signed him up, turned him into a powerful weapon off the bench and now as a pinch-hitting centre, Lowe has gone from NRL outcast to someone whispered as a potential Queensland bench option should injuries impact the Maroons’ campaign.
Halfback Adam Reynolds might be considered unlucky not to be joining the Blues’ camp but considering he limped off with what was feared a potentially lengthy leg injury against the Tigers, the fact he’s available for Souths selection might have coach Bennett performing metaphorical cartwheels. In regular circumstances Souths facing Parramatta would see value in a 13+ Bunnies margin but Origin season is a great equaliser especially considering such is the Bunnies’ decimated roster, they’ve now named a squad of 20 for selection two weeks running – the only times in 2019 an NRL club has been unable to name 21 available players. With Dane Gagai also unavailable with Queensland selection, Souths aren’t far off calling up Reggie the Rabbit to come off the bench. This match provides the ultimate challenge of Souths’ depth and with veterans Reynolds, Sutton and the Burgess boys still available, they’ll need every ounce of experience to pull off another stirring 2019 victory.
Key Stats: Parramatta are unaffected by Origin selection – the only side playing this round to have this luxury. Through Origin callups alone Souths lose 382 NRL matches of experience. Maika Sivo has scored in every Bankwest Stadium match.
Tip: Eels - $1.57* (Ladbrokes)
Best bet: Eels -4 - $2.06* (Ladbrokes)
Value bet: Maika Sivo anytime try scorer - $2.10* (Ladbrokes)