2021 NRL Round 17, Rabbitohs 46 Cowboys 18 – Report

Shannon Meyer reviews another big win on Friday for South Sydney against a lacklustre Cowboys side.


Rabbitohs 46

Tries: Blake Taaffe (23), Taane Milne (31, 34, 67), Alex Johnston (37, 48, 70), Thomas Burgess (58).

Goals: Adam Reynolds (8 pen, 33, 39 , 43 – pen, 50, 59, 72).

Cowboys 18

Tries: Tom Dearden (17), Shane Wright (19), Kyle Feldt (77).

Goals: Scott Drinkwater (15 – pen , 18, 77).

Player of the Year Points

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3 pts – Cody Walker (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
2 pts – Alex Johnston (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
1 pt – Keaon Koloamatangi (South Sydney Rabbitohs)


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1st Half

South Sydney welcomed the Cowboys to the neutral venue of Newcastle on a wet Friday night, with the two South Sydney halves smarting after missing out on NSW Origin selection. Would they take out their Origin blues on the Cowboys?

South Sydney started off the brightest, dominated the first 10 minutes, and went in front with a penalty goal in front: the Cowboys had attempted a short drop out after pressure from the Rabbitohs which saw Hame Sele nearly crash over the previous set. The most interesting thing was Adam Reynolds cleaning his boots pre-kick with a dishwashing brush.

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After being handed their first decent attacking position of the half, the Cowboys were gifted two points with a follow up off-side penalty, easily converted by Scott Drinkwater. They looked ok in their first serious raid of the night.

North Queensland hit the front with the very next set. Coen Hess won the contest with Blake Taaffe from a last play bomb and batted it back to Murray Taulagi who found Tom Dearden supporting on the inside who slid in to score under the posts. The easy conversion made it a surprise 8-2 lead to the Cowboys.

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The Cowboys went further in front with the very next set and sensationally so. Jason Taumalolo charged up the middle and barged his way through the Souths line on the halfway and 30 metres later he found some support in Reece Robson, Daejarn Asi, and Robson again, then eventually Shane Wright after a lofted pass to the left. All in the one play. The conversion missed and it was 12-2 with 20 minutes gone.

Souths closed the gap with their very next set as Taaffe scored his first ever NRL try. The last tackle play followed a familiar route of Adam Reynolds to Cody Walker who looped behind then fired a bullet pass to Alex Johnston, and instead of the Rabbitohs winger scoring as per usual he put in a small grubber which Taaffe pounced on. Sideline conversion guru Reynolds missed the conversion.

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There was some good football being played despite the wet conditions.

A comedy of errors in attack eventually ended in a Kyle Feldt knock on 10 metres from his own line and five tackles later it ended in a South Sydney try. Once again, as predictable as it could be, it was Reynolds to a looping Walker, the variation this time was it went to the right: Walker’s pass finding an unmarked Taane Milne to score in the corner. Reynolds added the two points and squared up the scoreboard.

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After being presented with a comfy passage upfield with two Set Restarts, South Sydney presented the Cowboys with a carbon copy of the previous try: Reynolds to Walker to Milne to the right. In the blink of an eye the Cowboys’ surprise lead was gone.

The Rabbitohs’ lead was soon extended and Walker was involved yet again. Running to the left from 20 metres out the ball found Walker who threw the perfect cut out to the perfect recipient – Johnston – who turned on the speed to score in the left corner. Reynolds nailed the sideline conversion and Souths now led 22-12 as half-time loomed.

After taking a surprise lead the Cowboys faded badly and Souths turned on the magic, scoring three tries in six minutes just before half-time.

HALF-TIME:South Sydney Rabbitohs 22 North Queensland Cowboys 12

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2nd Half

As if the Cowboys needed any further obstacles to making a comeback they found themselves down to 12 players early in the second half after Heilum Luki caught Peter Mamouzelos high close to the line. The sin bin was fair enough, although one could also argue a late hit from Liam Knight on Tom Dearden not long before was also worthy of the same punishment but went unnoticed or unpunished. The penalty goal from Reynolds made it 24-12.

South Sydney eventually took advantage of the extra man when Johnston scored his second of the night after a raid down the left edge: Reynolds taking it to the line then firing to Walker then Braidon Burns who looked like he might score himself before handing it to the NRL’s leading try scorer. Johnston had to wrestle the ball over the line, showing his dedication to the four pointer. Johnston is building a nice collection of tries with multiples in the last five matches. Reynolds added the two points.

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Souths had enough ball and territory to further extend the margin, but unforced errors dried up the scoring. That was until Tom Burgess got among the try scorers after charging up the middle from 20 metres out and easily making it through two would-be Cowboy tacklers to score under the posts. His ‘Goanna’ post-try celebration was a nice nod to former teammate Greg Inglis. Souths were now 36-12 in front with just over 20 minutes to go.

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Milne secured his hat-trick in the 67th minute after Souths got good ball after the Cowboys were caught on the fifth tackle. The lead up work was done by Walker with a brilliant flick on to the Souths winger, who had to do plenty: with Cowboys pressure on the whole 10 metres he had to steam to the line and score. For the record it was Walker’s fourth try assist.

Not wanting to be outdone by his teammate, Johnston scored his third of the night, reaching out close to the line and just making it under pressure from the Cowboys’ defence. This time the final cut-out pass was thrown by Benji Marshall. Reynolds, who was also involved in the try, kicked the sideline conversion. It was 46-12 with still seven minutes to go.

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The Cowboys got the dictionary definition of a consolation try with three minutes to go when Feldt crossed in the corner courtesy of a Drinkwater grubber after a good but not frequent enough charge and offload from Taumalolo. The conversion ensured the margin stayed under 30 points.

For North Queensland it was a disappointing night after taking a surprise 12-2 in the first half. They were not able to compete with Souths at their attacking best, and aside from that two-try burst didn’t really offer too much in attack. Not that they were given many opportunities.

While Taumalolo was one of the Cowboys’ better players on the night, with his charge leading to the Cowboys’ second try, one does have to question why he spends so much time off the field these days. The Cowboys were leading 12-2 went he went off and by the time he returned Souths had scored 24 straight points and the game was all but over with momentum all the Rabbitohs’ way.

In the end it was an easy win for the Rabbitohs on the back of another great display from Walker and it helps having Reynolds as his partner in crime and having the competition’s leading try scorer. Souths have been good for most of the season against the easier opponents; the big question awaits in the finals against the top two.

FULL-TIME: South Sydney Rabbitohs 46 North Queensland Cowboys 18


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