Parramatta Eels captain Clint Gutherson has had one of the best individual passages of play of the season, turning an 8-0 deficit into an 18-8 lead in just five minutes in the first half on the NRL elimination final.
But unfortunately for the Eels, it wasn’t enough as the side bowed out in straight sets to the South Sydney Rabbitohs in a 38-24 loss.
The Eels were just hanging on after an early penalty goal to the Rabbitohs with South Sydney making plenty of metres and restricting the Eels to come out of their own half.
Watch the 2020 NRL Telstra Premiership Finals on Kayo. Every game before the Grand Final Live & On-Demand with no-ad breaks during play. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
A mistake from debutant Haze Dunster 10m out from his own line gave the Rabbitohs perfect field position, and they made the Eels pay with a try in the corner to Jaxson Paulo.
While the edges have been exposed in recent weeks, the Eels didn‘t capitulate, in fact Gutherson sparked an incredible turnaround.
Souths could be ruing a missed captain’s challenge after an Eels grubber hit Souths fullback Corey Allan and bounced into touch.
Allan was far from happy as the referee ruled it was played at but despite being asked if they wanted to challenge it, the Rabbitohs stayed silent.
“Corey, I don’t think he was sure if he played at it or not,” Braith Anasta said.
From the next set, the Eels sparked an incredible five minute assault.
The Eels had all the possession with three straight tries all orchestrated by the Eels fullback.
He scored the first through an offload from Junior Paulo, who spun in the tackle and passed back on the inside for Gutherson to slide over the line.
“This has got NSW jersey written all over it, the hit, the spin, the offload,” Andrew Voss said.
It ignited the crowd in Parramatta who liked what they saw when the Eels went the length of the field on the fourth tackle with Dylan Brown passing at the line, Shaun Lane offloading and Gutherson racing to the 10m line, passing around the corner to George Jennings.
“This is sensational,” Greg Alexander exclaimed while Braith Anasta called it ”special”.
A bomb at the end of the first set from the kick off saw a Souths knock on, with Gutherson muscling his way over the line from the scrum.
“He‘s doing it again, your highness,” Voss said, referring to Gutherson’s nickname King Gutho. ”Your people are watching you and admiring your work.”
Alexander was blown away by the stunning turnaround of the Eels.
“I can‘t remember a period of six minutes where one player has stood out as much as Gutherson has, and dragged his team from 8-0 down to comfortably in the lead now,” Alexander said.
Anasta added: “Possession is king and momentum is everything and the Parramatta Eels pretty much put on the same play as Souths did down the other end of the field, and Gutherson has been just electric the last 10 minutes of this game.”
“He‘s turned the game on its head.”
Social media agreed as the Eels took the 18-8 lead to the break.
On Channel 9, the raving about Gutherson continued.
“You can feel the energy in the stadium,” Andrew Johns said. “You can see the way they‘re playing, they believe.”
Ray Warren added: “Gutherson‘s on fire. Get the brigade, he‘s in everything.”
South Sydney hit back with two early tries in the second half but the game truly turned on a disastrous moment.
A missed penalty kick from Mitchell Moses with 19 minutes left, that would have made it 20-all, slammed into the post and bounced back for the Rabbitohs.
At the end of the next set, Gutherson couldn’t hang on to a grubber after being knocked by Cody Walker with the ball flying into the arms of Bayley Sironen to score.
It was an eight-point swing that made it 26-18 and the Rabbitohs weren’t going to be chased down after an intercept to Jaxson Paulo sealed the result.
The Rabbitohs will face the Penrith Panthers in the NRL preliminary final on Saturday night at ANZ Stadium.