2016 NRL Round 20, Rabbitohs 12 Sea Eagles 20 – Report

Manly got the better of Souths on Monday who continue a poor run of consecutive losses. Whilst Manly keep the slightest of finals hopes alive.

The game featured a lot of drop ball, many penalties and some great attacking football in between.


The rise of the Tom and Jake Trbojevic to be two of Manly’s most important players shows that there can be a great reward for bringing through juniors.

When big name players hold clubs to ransom for large pay increases – often citing an interest in French Rugby, or the Waratahs – they should remember that there’s another Trbojevic type waiting to take their place, and the competition will continue without them.
Tom Trbjoevic is the younger of the two brothers, and has been the star of Manly this year.

He showed plenty of reasons why against the Rabbitohs. Ultra safe at the back, diffusing kicks with ease and showing plenty of grit in defence, he is as reliable a fullback as there is in the NRL. In attack he offers even more and was involved in most of the Manly points, the second directly involving his brother in the lead up.

His performances at fullback may give the club a huge decision when Brett Stewart is fit again, given they look a better side with the youngster at the back.

Jake Trbojevic doesn’t quite have the flair of his brother but is tremendously hard working players, who has become a Manly star and Supercoach must have this season.

Whilst it was a good end result for Manly, they should be wary of the curse of beating South Sydney one week, then losing the next.

South Sydney have been beaten by many sides this year, having lost 13 of their 18 games in 2016. A little known fact though is that just three of those teams have won their next match.

This was highlighted by the Broncos backing up their drought breaking Souths win with a dreadful performance against Penrith on Friday night.

In fact the last five teams to beat Souths all lost the following week, so the odds are stacked against the Sea Eagles. Good news for Newcastle fans awaiting a long overdue win.

In between the drop ball and the penalties, South Sydney had some great patches.

Especially in the second half as they forced Manly to concede penalties up to the stage of the official warning from the officials.

They jumped out of the break with passion and purpose, so rarely seen this season, and got within 6 points of Manly and had enough ball to equalise and kick on.

Souths’ two tries came from Adam Reynolds forgoing the usual fifth tackle play and running the ball on the first occasion for a solo try, and a deft grubber for the ever excellent Cody Walker. Whether it was co-incidental or not, but both of those scoring opportunities came from Adam Reynolds choosing not to bomb the ball high in the air.
Whilst his bomb was hard to catch up in the past, and still remains a weapon, it has been relied on it far too much this season, and it appears teams have worked out the Rabbitohs likely fifth tackle game plan.

Once again Sam Burgess was terrific, with huge numbers for hit ups, tackles and metres gained. His efforts are great every week, and is one of very few who avoid the blame for Souths awful 2016. One question remains though, has his arrival been worth the exodus of players that had to happen to accommodate it. A few tries from Chris McQueen on the weekend for the Gold Coast shows what they are missing.


Sometimes footballers cab have the odd shocker, and Joe Burgess had one of these against Manly.

Having joined mid season from the Roosters, he has played a handful of games for both sides this season, and showed plenty of promise at times. And speed.

But Monday night’s game was one of errors mixed in with a glimpse of pace, and the night was summed up with him finally getting over the line only to have the NRL Bunker take it away with a questionable call. It looked a try in fast motion, and still looked a try with Bunker slo-mo, but it wasn’t to be for Burgess or Souths.

That would have made it 18-16 with a Kick to Come, but their opportunity to draw level was lost as Manly shut out the Rabbitohs, and sealed the win with a penalty goal.

Joe Burgess will head back to the UK and Wigan in 2017. One of the only Burgesses from the UK to not quite crack it in the NRL. But not the first Englishman.

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