Parramatta will be sending an SOS to Mitch Moses after their hopes of finishing in the top four took a monumental hit courtesy of a 26-0 drubbing at the hands of South Sydney who leapfrogged them on a very congested ladder.

The Eels could have joined the Sharks and Storm on 30 competition points but instead they’ll finish the round in seventh if the Broncos can beat the Knights.

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This is the adult version of snakes and ladders that no club wants to be embroiled in with just three games to go in the regular season, especially after their fans were dreaming of premiership glory following wins over Penrith and Manly.

It’s why they’ll be praying that Moses can make an early return from a broken finger for next week’s game against the Bulldogs as they look to avoid consecutive losses to Canterbury this season.

They desperately missed his booming right boot and electric speed on the right edge, and those weapons will be essential in the final two rounds when they take on Melbourne and Brisbane as they look to lock in a home game for week one of the finals.

“He’s pushing and he might (return next week),” Eels coach Brad Arthur said. “But we can’t turn that performance into anything if Mitch was there tonight.

“We weren’t good enough through the middle. We got bashed up, we weren’t physical for whatever reason, and we need to be physical.”

Parramatta’s struggles in attack were laid bare in the second half when they failed to score with 61 per cent of the ball and 62 per cent of territory in the opening 16 minutes, only for the Bunnies to punish them with their first meaningful set.

Maika Sivo had a couple of tries disallowed, but that’s as close as they got.

The issue for the Eels is just how big the gap is between their best and their worst, with their vaunted forward pack totally outplayed through the middle on Friday.

“It’s not great, but we’re not worried about consistency right now,” Arthur said.

“There was no physicality through the middle third of the field and we just got steamrolled.”

Mitchell Magic

We’re starting to run out of superlatives for Latrell Mitchell after the South Sydney fullback put in another best-on-field performance as the Rabbitohs fired a timely warning to the rest of the league.

Mitchell’s return from injury has surpassed anything South Sydney officials would have hoped for when they forked out the big bucks to send him to the States. He’s come back a changed man and could be the trump card that sees them go one better than they did in 2021.

And he had a warning for all the premiership hopefuls after the game, saying on Channel 9: “Look over your shoulder, we’re coming. South Sydney.”

Mitchell was unstoppable on Friday night, bursting through the middle with his first two touches thanks to a couple of inside passes from Cameron Murray.

He chimed in on both sides of the field to strip Parramatta’s edge defence and finished the night with 179 metres, eight tackle busts, three line breaks, two line break assists and a try assist to continue his scorching streak.

At one stage he was upright as five Parramatta defenders struggled to bring him down like he was the big kid dominating in little league at halftime.

“He’s such a threat,” coach Jason Demetriou said, declaring this South Sydney’s most ruthless performance of the year. “He’s not your stereotypical fullback. He’s a guy who can do things not many other players can.”

It’s why the Rabbitohs can dream of a top-four finish and should start favourites against a depleted Panthers side next week in the grand final rematch, especially if they maintain the defensive rage that saw them hold a team to single digits for the first time this year.

“We know there are some big challenges ahead,” their coach said.

Eighth wonder of the world

Alex Johnston is breaking records as regularly as he’s scoring tries this season.

The Rabbitohs winger moved into eighth spot on the all-time leaderboard when he touched down for the 160th try of his career, and then added to that tally with another four-pointer to make it 18-0.

He’s in elite company and is in absurd form having scored 11 tries in his past six games to take his season tally up to 25.

– NCA NewsWire

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