Mitchell Moses stars for Parramatta Eels in win over South Sydney Rabbitohs

Michael Maguire and Brad Arthur can grumble with the best of the NRL coaches, a sometimes cranky crew pending which way the ball bounces on the weekend. But not this week.

They were the only two coaches - barring Penrith's Anthony Griffin – who have walked around their respective training bases this week and counted a full complement untouched by the annual State of Origin purge.

Are the Eels and Rabbitohs teams that don't rely on stars, or are they just devoid of them? The truth probably lies somewhere in between for two of the NRL's middle men in 2017, yet to prove what they're really about and we're almost halfway through the season.

So this wasn't like any other mid-season snoozefest. This actually counted for something. Showed us where the muddling Rabbitohs and Eels are really at. And on that score it is hard to see where next for South Sydney.+

Granted, they had bounced from one side of the Nullarbor Plain and back to face the shortest turnaround in the NRL which was never going to be easy.

And they played like they had only stepped off the red eye in the first half, surrendering an 18-point deficit before going down 22-16 to the Eels at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.

"We need to have a good hard look at ourselves," Maguire said. "We knocked out a reasonable performance five days ago [against Melbourne] and turned around and tossed up that. We need to have a good look at ourselves.

"A lot of people keep asking me about short turnarounds, but people go to Origin and turn up to play three days later. I think they're poor excuses so we can wipe those ones out. They ran harder, they tackled harder. It's a pretty simple game.

"I think a good starting point is hanging onto the ball."

If we're still trying to figure out what the Eels are about this year, we're a little more certain what Mitch Moses is about now.

Devastatingly electric on his day, if the ex-Tiger didn't make himself dizzy sweeping behind play-the-balls at the last moment all night he certainly had Rabbitohs No.1 Cody Walker in a spin with a bevy of swirling bombs.

Moses kicked, ran and generally probed in a manner which not only baffled the Rabbitohs – but also Tigers fans. All until he came up lame with a hip and struggled through the second half, but the damage had been done. Arthur warned last week it would take time for Moses to adjust to the blue and golds, time they didn't have. A week can be a gloriously long time in rugby league.

The hesitant and nervous Moses of a week ago was replaced by a man who owned a side he hasn't been a part of for a fortnight. The Eels looked to have landed the right man.

"We don't have time, but we he's going need a bit of time to get better and as long as we see improvement in him from week to week and session to session ... we've seen that," Arthur said. "It's not only that, but our boys getting used to what his strengths are and how he likes to play. He likes to play very fast into the line so we need to get up a touch flatter with him. It's probably a few details like that."

It was only fitting a final second switch from open side to short side would tee up Tepai Moeroa for the first try of the night, a tactic he repeated over and over and over again. And still it caused alarm every time. Parramatta's buffer increased when Beau Scott scrambled to ground a grubber fumbled by Walker prior to Gutherson's penalty and scoot out of dummy-half to set up Semi Radradra which padded the lead to 18 points at the break.

If the Rabbitohs weren't already tired after a trip to the other side of the continent and back, a peep at the scoreboard made the legs feel a little heavier.

On the same turf he tormented his former club a fortnight ago to all but preserve his Origin jersey - or so we thought - Robbie Farah arrived at Olympic Park for the second time in 48 hours.

Only this time not beaming in the red of Liverpool, his other love whose fly-in fly-out visit lasted about as long as Peter Wallace's NSW recall.

Damien Cook climbed off the bench with barely 15 minutes left, but by then the Rabbitohs were out of the contest as Angus Crichton's 90-metre scamper was cancelled out by Josh Hoffman's acrobatics.

They still had time for a late Alex Johnston double, which only added respectability to the scoreboard. But nothing else.

Which at least made one grumbling coach smile for a bit longer than a week. And the other?

"You like to ask these questions as media [if the Rabbitohs are out of contention], but in this competition you can turn things around really quickly," Maguire said. "I've got a group I really believe in and if we fix up a few areas I've spoken about then the competition is wide open."

Bet he wishes had an Origin star or two to come back into the fold though.


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