A second-half onslaught by South Sydney Rabbitohs saw them run out comfortable 24-42 winners against Parramatta Eels, leaving the Eels bottom of the NRL table and sending the Rabbitohs top – if only overnight.
It is the first time Souths have won seven games on the bounce since 1994 and, on this evidence, this run is likely to extend further. Parramatta played their part in a highly-entertaining match and were unlucky to go into the break two points behind the Rabbitohs. The Eels took a fourth minute lead courtesy of Josh Hoffman after Hymel Hunt fumbled a kick, though Clint Gutherson missed the conversion. Souths replied almost immediately as the hosts dropped the kick-off, enabling Robert Jennings to take advantage of a sweeping move from the resulting scrum and dot down in the corner. Adam Reynolds converted to give the Rabbitohs a 4-6 lead.
The Eels ramped up the pressure and after forcing two successive goal-line drop-outs, retook the lead on 12 minutes as another Jennings, this time George, crossed the whitewash after good work by Gutherson. The latter again missed the conversion attempt.
By now the Eels were purring and they crossed again on 24 minutes; a superb pass by halfback Corey Norman sent a storming Dani Terepo through a gap who offloaded to Bevan French. Gutherson’s first successful conversion attempt meant the hosts led 14-6.
But, Souths are near the top of the table for a reason and they scored 34 unanswered points both sides of half-time to take the game away from bottom side Parramatta. Robert Jennings got his second on 33 minutes before Alex Johnston took Souths into the lead after gathering a neat kick by Cody Walker just before half-time.
Five Souths tries in 25 second-half minutes destroyed any hopes that Parramatta may have had of causing an upset. Johnston got his second on 49 minutes after a brilliant Angus Crichton pass sent him through a gap, then just two minutes later Robert Jennings had his hat-trick.
Some more stunning, effortless rugby league from the Rabbitohs saw Hunt cross just shy of the hour mark before Jennings had his fourth of the night to become the first player to score four tries in 2018. Tom Burgess rounded off Souths’ try-scoring exploits on 65 minutes when a kick ricocheted off a Parramatta defender into the arms of Reynolds. The halfback offloaded to the former Bradford man who was able to crash over from five metres out.
There was still time for the Eels to bring some respectability to the scoreline as Jarryd Hayne and Josh Hoffman both crossed for tries in the last ten minutes, before a Reynolds penalty goal finished the scoring a minute before the end. The Rabbitohs have made the most line breaks and scored the most tries in the NRL so far this year and, from this game, it is easy to see why.
Eels: French, Hoffman, M. Jennings, Hayne, G. Jennings, Gutherson (C), Norman, Alvaro, King, Mannah (C), Ma’u, Takairangi, Brown; Interchanges: Mahoney, Terepo, Gower, Niukore
Tries: Hoffman 2, G. Jennings, French, Hayne; Goals: Gutherson 2
Rabbitohs: Johnston, Hunt, Inglis (C), Gagai, R. Jennings, Walker, Reynolds, T. Burgess, Cook, G. Burgess, Sutton, Crichton, S. Burgess; Interchanges: Doueihi, Murray, Clark, Tatola
Tries: R. Jennings 4, Johnston 2, Hunt, T. Burgess; Goals: Reynolds 5