The South Sydney Rabbitohs reclaimed top spot on the NRL ladder after a dominant 30-20 display against the Melbourne Storm.
It looked like the Melbourne Storm were well on top of things in the first half. The Rabbitohs were a little sloppy to start, making a few handling errors at opportune attacking moments.
The Storm took advantage of the early momentum going their way, jumping out to a 16-6 lead by the 30 minute mark. Josh Addo-Carr was involved heavily, making a few successful left side attacking raids for a try and an assist to Curtis Scott.
The Rabbitohs narrowed the gap to 12-16 before the break and came out the other side on absolute fire. They completely dominated the second half with their relentless attack and defence rattling the Storm.
They tested the Storm’s right side defence constantly, scoring 2 tries down that edge along with a moment of individual brilliance from Cook to make it 3 for the half. Gus Gould proclaimed it to be the best half of footy he had seen any team play this year.
The final scoreline of 30-20 didn’t quite do justice as to how Souths were far and away the better team on the night. Melbourne failed to register a single play-the-ball in the opposition 20 in the second half, a tremendous stat for any team to register.
Damien Cook stars
Cook had an exceptional game on Friday night. His speed out of dummy half tore apart the Storm’s middle defence time and again. His stunning solo try in the 62nd minute saw him take off from dummy half from 40 out, beating Slater and Addo-Carr on the way to the line.
He finished the night with 190 running metres, 8 tackles busts and a try assist for Sam Burgess. If anyone other than Damien Cook is the next Australian Hooker, it’ll be a complete shock.
Souths break Storm hoodoo
Friday’s match was just the 5th time in the club’s history that South Sydney had managed to emerge victorious against the Storm. The victory could be put down to the brilliant work that coach Anthony Seibold has done in redeveloping the entire team.
Everyone knows by now how dangerous the Souths left side attack is but not even one of the best defensive teams in the comp could stop what was coming.
The Burgess brothers were a force through the middle and young Campbell Graham put in the best performance of his short career out on the right wing.
Seibold has turned a team that was tipped to place around the bottom 4 into legitimate premiership contenders and their performance against the Storm was their biggest statement yet to the rest of the competition.
Cam Smith injury a worrying sign
Cameron Smith was taken off the field a few minutes out from full-time with an Achilles injury. No major damage was reported to have been suffered and Smith himself said he might be right for next week.
He’ll go for scans to determine the full extent of the damage and the Storm are going to be hoping it’s nothing serious. If he’s out for even a few weeks, the Storm are going to be hard pressed to hold a Top 4 spot.
Storm’s lack of genuine halfback starting to hurt
Sooner or later the Storm were going to get exposed by their lack of a genuine organizational half. Cameron Smith has done most of the game management all year but on an off night where he left the field injured, it showed a deficiency in the Storm side.
Jahrome Hughes is a fine player being used as a makeshift halfback. It’s worked well for weeks but when the Storm needed to mount a comeback and gain momentum back, his kicking game just didn’t cut it.
The Storm are just that good for it not to be an issue but Friday night demonstrated how it might not be enough against the fellow premiership contenders.
Tries: Hymel Hunt (14m), Sam Burgess (36m), Adam Doueihi (52m), Damien Cook (62m), Alex Johnston (72m)
Goals: Adam Reynolds 4/5
Tries: Dale Finucane (6m), Josh Addo-Carr (18m, 77m), Curtis Scott (29m)
Goals: Cameron Smith 2/3
Match highlights can be viewed here