NRL Indigenous Round Match Report

By Greg Allan for Bunnies TV.

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Parramatta Eels Round 12

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written anything for Bunnies TV so I’m looking a bit like the ultimate fair weather fan making my return today! My last report was way back when we capitulated to the Warriors back in Round 5, that was a serious low point.

I do have my excuses though. I was overseas for a couple of weeks and let’s face it… there hasn’t been much to say that hasn’t already been said. It’s been a tough year for all of us. One of the very worst if you ask me… Thankfully, some hope emerged last night in Indigenous Round, a round that up till last year was traditionally a time for success for our great club.

When The Slide Began

It was this time last season when the slide began. We were on a high after beating all in our path and looking like a comp was a real possibility. That night the Eels belted us at Allianz and we never recovered, we just got worse. Because of this, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one approaching this match with some trepidation. 

NRL Indigenous Round Match Report
As usual, the club put on a stunning display to honour our First Nations people.

Conditions were good out at Accor and the crowd was decent given how poorly both sides had been going. As usual, the club put on a stunning display to honour our First Nations people. It was a bit of a contrast to the Sharkies version that I heard a bit of on the radio on the way out which sounded like it had been organised 5 minutes before.

No one would argue that Souths nail this sort of thing every time, it’s the actual footy we struggle with of late. Along with some traditional dances and a performance from artist Budgerah, Souths put on a parade led by former Indigenous legends of the club. I spied Nathan Merritt, Darrell Trindall, Wes Patten, I think Graham Lyons and there were probably others that I missed.

Two of my all time favourite players were on the field last night.

Tricky and Merritt are two of my all time favourite players so it was great to see both of them. Nathan got a standing ovation pre-game, we absolutely love him at the Rabbitohs. Merritt was looking good, obviously recovered from his recent health battles. My friend Craig next to me suggested we throw him a jersey. Not a bad idea at all considering our injury toll!!

Dialed In

Play was underway and Souths had the better of the play early. Our team looked dialed in at this early stage and Parra seemed a bit off. The sacking of Brad Arthur mid-week was a bit of a strange one and I was hoping it would have a negative effect on their team. It certainly appeared so as the errors mounted and Souths got set after set. After 9 minutes, Jai Arrow crossed, scoring a try that Eels fans would have hated in its ease.

Keaon did the same 3 minutes later, carving through the middle with little trouble. Not to be left out, Dion Teaupa scored his debut NRL try slicing through the defence after a simple dummy. He probably scored harder tries in Under 8’s for the Maroubra Lions. At the 27th minute, AJ crossed in the corner for career try 190, drawing level with Billy Slater on the all-time list in the process. Alex had to work hard to get his 4 pointer but he completed it like the ultimate professional that he is. 

NRL Indigenous Round Match Report
190 all for AJ & Billy.

At 22-0 things were looking much better than they had been in a while but even though we had a huge lead, the crowd knew things could turn quickly with our depleted side. Sure enough, an error from Cookie coming out of our own end turned the momentum of the match.

The Eels First Try

The Eels got their first in the corner pretty easily. The Souths backline defence was unsurprisingly all at sea with our makeshift line up. 2 minutes later, Sean Russell went over after the Eels went the length of the field. Not long after this, a major incident occurred with Latrell Mitchell being binned for a ‘hip drop’ tackle. This of course is the new focus in the NRL and I guess rightly so, given the injuries that the tackles cause. This one didn’t seem bad at all though, accidental at best, but the ref had made his decision. It was pretty ugly stuff but we managed to hold them out for a few more sets and went to our first half time lead of the season.

Going into the 2nd half, we knew as fans that anything could happen. Sure, we had a 10 point lead but we knew that it could disappear very quickly and there was still 40 minutes left. An early try to Morgan Harper had us fearing the worst and maybe even expecting it in this nightmare season.

A Bizarre Decision

A hip drop from an Eels player, looking decidedly worse than Latrell’s, earned us a penalty but not a sin bin. This was a truly bizarre decision and of course the home crowd were up in arms. I love the NRL but some of the decisions made are just insane and undefendable, this was one of those. Sometimes you wonder if they do it deliberately to continue the drama and keep people talking about the game. Dion kicked the penalty goal and ate up a bit of time so Latrell was able to return. 

NRL Indigenous Round Match Report
Lucas, Juliet and dad were all smiles after the game.

A fantastic try from Sean Keppie from a sharp Cookie kick extended our lead. The try came after a great run from AJ who was looking classy at his new spot at fullback. I forgot to mention that the reshuffle occurred after we lost Wighton to an HIA. Up till then, Jack was inspirational. This also shifted Mitchell to five-eighth which was a bit of a blessing in disguise as it really brought out his best.

Despite the positive signs, nothing is ever easy at Souths anymore and Sivo scored in the corner for Parra, keeping them in the game. But a try from Cookie after a clever Latrell kick and another Keaon try after a lethal bomb from Mitchell put things well out of danger. A very late consolation try to the Eels damaged the scoreboard a little but we had done it! A second win for the mighty Rabbitohs! 42-26.

Proud & Happy

Whilst I’m under no illusions in thinking that our season has now suddenly turned around, it was great to get the win. Parra were good in parts but were mostly quite awful. Still, we had our excuses not to win that, losing Wighton completely and others to HIAs during the game. Players were well out of position in an already makeshift team. But we fought on and got the 2 points and for that we can be very proud and happy!

A great team effort but obviously Latrell was masterful tonight. This was the Mitchell that we love to see as he was head and shoulders above the rest. The five-eighth position really suited him tonight but there’s no reason why he can’t get this involved from fullback next round. Our forwards won the battle tonight which paved the way to the win as it always does in rugby league. The Eels forwards were mostly not up for the fight but at least we were good enough to take advantage.

Arrow, Host, Keppie, Moale all worked hard but a special mention to Keaon. It’s been a disappointing season for him but he was an absolute beast in the middle, deservedly earning the Eric Simms Medal.

Keaon Koloamatangi was an absolute beast in the middle, deservedly earning the Eric Simms Medal. (South Sydney Rabbitohs)

It’s so nice to finally get a win… Hopefully, after the bye, we can grab another against the Titans. With the effort we saw tonight, we’re certainly a decent chance. I’m actually going to be there at Cbus Stadium for that match with a few other Rabbitoh diehards so I can’t wait to find out!

NRL Indigenous Round Match Report.

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