The South Sydney Rabbitohs have shattered several preconceptions in an incredibly dominant first half against the Parramatta Eels before running away 38-0 winners to shock the NRL.
While many thought the Rabbitohs’ would be faced with a much stiffer test against the Eels after the historic win over the Manly Sea Eagles last week, the Rabbitohs arguably put in their best performance of the season.
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The Eels had entered the game with one of the best defensive records in the NRL and a massive edge in betting markets, but the Rabbitohs blew Parramatta off their own park, leading 22-0 at the break at Bankwest Stadium.
An Eels comeback would have been the biggest comeback in the club’s history but it never seemed likely to happen.
The Rabbitohs were at their silky best with four tries in the first half, including a stunning try for Cody Walker, and claiming the side’s first top eight scalp of the season with a crushing victory.
Linking up with Adam Reynolds, Walker burst through a gaping gap 40m out for a stunning try.
“Seven to six, as good as Alfie (Langer) and Kevvie (Walters) at their best for Brisbane,” Andrew Voss said on Fox League. “To watch two playmakers combine that was, if it’s possible to say, succulent from the Rabbits.”
Greg Alexander added: “That is special, the seven and six combining you don’t often see it in the modern game but that was beautiful.”
But it was far from the only beautiful moment from South Sydney as the Eels were left “shell-shocked”.
At halftime on Channel 9, NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler was just floored.
“The Eels are just on the ropes,” Fittler said. “I’ve got to say, South Sydney are looking a lot like Tim Tszyu. They’re just doing what they want, they’re battering them.”
In fact the only bad moment for the Rabbitohs was when Latrell Mitchell was helped off the field.
The Eels looked to have scored early in the second half, only for it to be disallowed for an obstruction, but as Mitchell came across to make a last-ditch attempt on the play, his own winger Jaxson Paulo landed on his leg, stretching his leg near his own face.
After initial serious concern for a hamstring injury, he limped from the field, with the NRL Physio believing it was a “stretch hamstring strain” although he admitting it could be a two to three week stint on the sideline. Post-match, it was revealed it appears to be a grade three hamstring strain that could see Mitchell out for 4-6 weeks but scans are needed to confirm.
The Eels on the other hand were just never in the game as the murmurs over the side’s premiership credentials became overwhelming screams in the embarrassing demolition.
“I think it says it all about Parramatta’s last couple of months of football,” Alexander said. “This loss was coming, they just had to play someone at the top of their game and this is what the Eels dish up.
“This is the side with one of the best defensive records in the game but their form over the last six weeks adds up to this performance.”
The Rabbitohs had an incredible 10 line breaks to zero according to the NRL website, with 43 missed tackles for the Eels.
Taking to Twitter at halftime, Channel 9’s Phil Gould, who has been raising concerns for several weeks, took aim at the Eels and praised the Rabbitohs.
“Outstanding first half from Rabbitohs. Superb exhibition of RL. They are making it look effortless. Team effort too. Along with many brilliant individual moments. Eels? Sometimes winning can mask a myriad of problems. Honesty test starts now. Let’s see how that handle it,” he wrote.
Peter Sterling said on Channel 9 post-game that “the only good thing is that it happened tonight was that it’s not in the finals”.
It was a sentiment that was echoed by former premiership winner Jamie Soward.
“This is either best thing for #eels and they can go on with it or the worst thing and the end for 2020,” he wrote on social media.
The NRL world was truly stunned by the performance.