Set small text size
Set the default text size
Set large text size
South Sydney have pulled off a stunning second-half to steal NRL victory from Parramatta in their semi-final at Bankwest Stadium.
In a dramatic day for the club, the Eels lead 18-8 at halftime before leaking 30 points to end their premiership hopes at Bankwest Stadium.
Earlier, the Eels were rocked by the revelation former Test and Origin centre Michael Jennings had failed a drug test and would be provisionally suspended under the NRL’s anti-doping policy.
It forced rookie winger Haze Dunster into a baptism of fire after getting the call-up to debut at 7:30am on game day.
Dunster was thrown onto the wing as a part of Brad Arthur’s patched together backline with Maika Sivo and Blake Ferguson also missing through injury.
And while the Eels were gutsy in defeat, their season ended in front of 14,510 fans.
The game was there for the taking at halftime when the Eels were up by 10 points following a flurry of points within four minutes – all either set up or scored by star fullback Clint Gutherson.
However, Souths pounced with two quick converted tries to start the second half and clawed back the lead.
Eels halfback Mitch Moses had the chance to level the scores with a penalty in the 62nd minute but the ball hit the posts and Rabbitohs winger Jaxon Paulo went streaking down the sideline.
Full of steam, Souths landed on Eels line, with Gutherson bobbling a grubber-kick from Damien Cook just enough for Bailey Sironen to ground the ball.
Eels five-eighth Dylan Brown threw an intercept for Paulo to score his second of the night with 10 minutes to go.
The try put Souths in front 32-18 but the Eels went down fighting.
Winger George Jennings also grabbed his second try of the night with five minutes to go – an emotional moment given the drama surrounding his older brother.
However, a late try to Damien Cook put an end to a miserable day for the Eels, leaving Parramatta players strewn and emotional on the turf.
It’s the second year in the row the Eels have bowed out of the finals in week two and the third time in four seasons.
South Sydney are now through to their third straight preliminary final and will face Penrith at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.