Andrew Pelechaty reviews the Manly Warringah vs South Sydney clash at Lottoland. Here’s how the game went.
Player of the Year PointsEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Benji Marshall (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
2 pts – Latrell Mitchell (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
1 pt – Adam Reynolds (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
Going as a warm favourites against a struggling Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (who were mourning the death of club legend Fred Jones), Souths justified the hype with two tries in the opening 15 minutes at a wet Brookvale Oval.
Cody Walker scored the first try in the seventh minute after a left hand raid, a quick touch-on on by Latrell Mitchell, and an inside ball from Alex Johnston.
Adam Reynolds scored the second try seven minutes later. With Souths again hitting the left, Reynolds grubbered infield, followed through, and touched down his own kick.
Souths nearly had a third a few minutes later to Damien Cook. The on-field decision of ‘no try’ was retained when there was insufficient evidence to see if he had grounded the ball.
Latrell Mitchell was sin-binned in the 25th minute after being ruled to have interfered with Daly Cherry-Evans, who was chasing his own kick towards Souths’ goal-line. It was a controversial moment which we’re sure to hear more about in the new few days.
Manly punished them when Lachlan Croker crashed over close to the line on the next set. Reuben Garrick converted to close the gap to four points.
After a Jai Arrow no try, Souths got one last chance with a Reynolds 40/20. Mitchell made up for his earlier sin-binning by cleaning up a Walker kick.
The 14-6 score halftime probably didn’t reflect Souths’ first half domination, though Mitchell’s sin-binning was a potential turning point.
HALF-TIME: Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 6 South Sydney Rabbitohs 14Embed from Getty Images
With an eight-point lead, Souths started the second half by injecting veteran Benji Marshall off the bench for Reynolds (HIA). With the rain unrelenting, could he use his 300-plus games of experience – and his kicking game – to get Souths home?
Manly had their chances early in the second half, including a big break down the right by Jason Saab, but they came to nothing.
Souths had their own chance 40 metres out, but Mitchell’s pass to Johnston was forward.
A Cameron Murray mistake a few minutes later left the door ajar for Manly: while they couldn’t captialise despite being deep in Souths’ territory, they got the ball straight back.
Manly made them pay this time, with Martin Tapau barging over after a nice offload from Taniela Paseka. Garrick’s conversion cut the deficit to two, given Manly a huge shot with 20 minutes left.
There was an injury blow to Manly with 17 minutes left as Cade Cust went off the field with a HIA.
Souths scored a crucial try with a break by Marshall, a flick pass to Mark Nicholls (not quite at the 2005 Grand Final level, but still brilliant), and Cook scoring. Mitchell converted to give Souths a 20-12 lead with 15 minutes left. Again, it highlighted the influence Marshall had in the second half.
Souths put the game away with five minutes left after a big break from Mitchell. Fast hands from right to left gave Johnston the try.
With one whole second left in the game, a scuffle broke out, with Jaydn Su’A sin-binned. Souths got the penalty, with Mitchell taking the shot at penalty goal, but he missed.
While the game was closer than some expected in the horrible conditions, Souths eventually had too much class for a depleted Manly side.
FULL-TIME: Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 12 South Sydney Rabbitohs 26
Match Review Committee
to be advised