Australia Eels eager to defy poor Souths record
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There’s little more than a month left in the regular season, five weeks which will determine more than just who misses the playoffs. Careers are on the line for players, coaches and administrators as the 16 NRL teams jockey for position over the closing weeks of the schedule. Premiers Penrith are now not so certain to finish first after Nathan Cleary was sent off and banned for the rest of the regular season after his spear tackle on Dylan Brown in the loss to the Eels on Friday night.
Coach Brad Arthur says Parramatta are relishing the chance to defy their poor recent record against South Sydney when the sides meet on Friday night.
The Rabbitohs have won seven of the last eight games between the two NRL premiership hopefuls and have scored at least 30 points in each of the five most recent encounters.
Since Arthur's tenure began in 2014, only the Sydney Roosters have enjoyed as dominant a record over Parramatta as South Sydney, but the coach said his side relished the chance to begin turning things around.
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"We're excited," Arthur said.
"They've gotten the better of us and been on top of us for the last couple of years so it's a really good challenge of us.
"The boys are looking forward to it because they know we haven't played good football against them for a long time."
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The Rabbitohs' left side remains their most potent point of attack, with Alex Johnston once again leading the league in try-scoring as the finals approach.
Arthur said he needed a strong defensive performance from Parramatta's right side, comprising Jake Arthur, Isaiah Papali'i, Tom Opacic and Waqa Blake.
"We've got a young edge there so they're going to have their work cut out for them," Arthur said.
"You've got Cody (Rabbitohs five-eighth Cody Walker) coming at you nice and fast, Latrell (Mitchell, fullback) out the back and then one of the best finishers on the wing.
"But it's a good opportunity for them to test themselves against probably the best left edge in the game."
With a win, the Eels could finish the weekend in the top four but risk dropping as low as seventh on the ladder if they lose.
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