South Sydney Rabbitohs: 23 (Turner, Auva’a, Johnston, S Burgess tries; Reynolds 3 goals; Reynolds field goal)
Manly Sea Eagles: 4 (Hiku try)
The South Sydney Rabbitohs have highlighted their premiership credentials by running over the top of ladder leaders the Manly Sea Eagles courtesy of a 23-4 win at the SCG in front of 27,062 fans.
In a game tipped to be a grand final preview, the Manly side held on strong for a large portion of the game, before the Souths side took the ascendency and the result in the last quarter of the game.
The night had started miserably for last year’s runners up, when Steve Matai succumbed to a shoulder injury in the opening minutes of the game.
The injury didn’t seem to affect Manly too much however, as they opened the scoring when Peta Hiku got on the end of a swift backline movement to plant the ball down out wide.
Lyon failed to convert the try giving a 4-nil lead to Manly after just six minutes.
Incredibly, that was the last points that Manly would score in the game, the Rabbitohs taking the lead in the 13th minute and never looking back.
The try came courtesy of an Adam Reynolds short ball to second rower Kyle Turner.
The Rabbitohs then extended the margin following a Lote Tuqiri break down the right side.
With the Sea Eagles side failing to recover following Tuqiri’s burst, the quick shift left from the play the ball allowing Kirisome Auva’a to dive over virtually untouched.
Reynolds nailed the conversion giving the red and green the 12-4 lead after 26 minutes.
They looked to put further points on Manly before the break, Greg Inglis looking set to score before a wonderful cover tackle from Brett Stewart cut the South’s fullback down eight metres short of the line.
At the resumption of the second half, Manly began to look desparate, trying a trick shot from a scrum, with Lyon kicking from first receiver. Stewart was first to the ball however was cut down almost immediately with the defence swarming from behind.
Daly Cherry Evans, who was having an unusual off night, highlighted the misfiring Manly attack when he went to throw a cut out pass, only to launch the ball in to the face of team mate Justin Horo for a perfect falcon.
A 59th minute burst from Jorge Taufua showed promise for the Sea Eagles, with the winger offloading to Tom Symonds who in turn found Jamie Buhrer. Once again however, the Rabbitohs defence kept the numbers and pulled Buhrer down from behind.
Manly’s troubles were deepened then Josh Starling was placed on report for a crusher tackle on South’s five eight Luke Keary, and there was to be further salt in the wound shortly after that.
The Rabbitohs shifted the ball through the hands of places on the move, picking off the Manly numbers to the right and when Walker offloaded to Alex Johnston who crossed unmarked, the game looked gone from Manly.
Sam Burgess looked to finish off the opposition charging on to a short ball before sprinting up field, once again Stewart pulling off a try saving tackle in bringing down the Englishman at full speed.
Not to be denied though, Burgess finished the try scoring for the night when he ran through a gaping hole from short range, with Stewart no where in sight to deny the big second rower the four pointer.
Reynolds sent the conversion attempt over before also kicking a late field goal to round out a near perfect night for the South Syndey side, winning handsomely at the ground they last claimed a premiership.