Jack Harbidge reviews the Saturday night clash between South Sydney and Melbourne at Accor Stadium…
South Sydney Rabbitohs 24
Tries: Alex Johnston 2 (27, 45), Keaon Koloamatagi (1), Lachlan Illias (47), Jaxson Paulo (55)
Goals: Latrell Mitchell 2 (3, 49)
Melbourne Storm 12
Tries: Marion Seve (36), Dean Ieremia (62)
Goals: Nick Meaney 2 (38, 63)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
Buoyed off the back of a win coming over the top of the Canterbury Bulldogs, the Rabbitohs started fast and scored one of the quickest tries in the NRL off the back of a penalty. The Rabbitohs shifted down their right edge to put Keaon Koloamatagi over down the right edge inside the first two minutes.
The defences tightened up after the try and the sides traded errors and sets before the Rabbitohs had a try scrubbed off by The Bunker just 11 minutes in. The middles locked in and battled for the following five minutes before Jahrome Hughes landed a sublime 40/20 to put the visitors in prime field position. The Storm couldn’t convert but forced a goal-line drop-out, from which South Sydney regained possession off a short kick and marched up the pitch.
Nick Meaney made an incisive line break off the back of a Cameron Munster offload and the Storm forced another goal-line drop-out off the back of the set to gain great field position. The Rabbitohs’ defence remained resolute, however, and they forced an error from Jesse Bromwich on the attacking set.
In the midst of a tough defensive effort, Cody Walker got a nick over the eye – though it didn’t stop an aggressive kick chase to drag Hughes into touch for a Melbourne penalty. The Storm marched up the field and looked close to breaching the Rabbitohs’ line before Munster’s fifth tackle option found the hands of Koloamatangi to feed Latrell Mitchell for a pressure-relieving run downfield.
South Sydney soon built on the pressure release and produced a great shape down the left edge for Mitchell to send Alex Johnston over in the right hand corner with a cut-out ball. Mitchell couldn’t convert from the touchline and Souths’ lead remained at 10.
The Rabbitohs, despite being dominant, couldn’t sustain the lead and Marion Seve broke away to score under the posts. Nick Meaney converted and Melbourne were back in the game at 10-6 going into the sheds.
The second half got off to a flyer for Souths, pressuring the line five minutes in and gaining a fortuitous extra set of six just outside of the Storm 20. Following a pair of carries, Mitchell picked up a loose ball to provide an exquisite offload for Johnston to provide a sublime finish in the left corner. Mitchell’s conversion was never near and the Rabbitohs led by eight points.
Tough work from the Souths middles off the kick off got the Rabbitohs up to halfway before Damian Cook jumped from the ruck to feed Koloamatangi into a gap who provided a classy offload to Lachlan Illias who slid in among tacklers from five metres out to put the ball down over his head. Mitchell made no mistake with the conversion in front of the sticks and Souths extended their lead to 14 points.
The Rabbitohs’ pack helped dominate territory for the following couple of sets before Munster produced a wonderful kick to land a 40/20. The Storm couldn’t make use of the attacking possession and a lost ball led Mitchell to kick the ball downfield for Johnston to chase, who hacked on and just ran out of room in the end zone.
The ensuing set saw Souths rip the ball on a carry to attack the Melbourne line once more and benefit off a well-worked shape down their right hand edge for Jaxson Paulo to cross in the right hand corner. The try made it Souths’ second biggest lead over Melbourne in 25 years.
A sound territorial kicking game from Illias was backed up by tough and aggressive defence in Melbourne’s half for the two sides to trade sets for the next few minutes, before Souths over-indulged to concede an offside penalty, which was compounded by a strip on the ensuing set to give the Storm prime attacking position in the Rabbitohs’ 20.
Hughes and Munster produced a great shape with delayed passes to put Dean Ieremia in the left hand corner. Meaney remained faultless from the tee with a great conversion from the touchline to cut the Rabbitohs’ lead to 12.
Melbourne used the momentum to get back in the arm wrestle and Munster produced a trademark strip to give the Storm prime field position. The visitors couldn’t capitalise and the two sides traded sets for the next 10 minutes before Souths got an attacking possession with five minutes to play.
Walker put the ball down and an exchange of errors on the ensuing sets all but put the game out of reach for the Storm.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Keaon Koloamatangi (Rabbitohs), 2 pts – Latrell Mitchell (Rabbitohs), 1 pt – Cameron Munster (Storm)
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