A depleted Rabbitohs outfit went down 64-6 to the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park in Melbourne tonight (Saturday).
A crowd of 15,403 saw the Storm score 11 tries to the Rabbitohs’ one in a dominant performance.
The Rabbitohs were down on troops before the kick off, and a head injury to Adam Reynolds within the first ten minutes did not help the cause.
The Storm got away to the best start possible despite the Rabbitohs pressuring them with their defence. Cooper Cronk was under pressure to get a kick away but a missed tackle let Cronk run free, allowing him to combine with Billy Slater and Suliasi Vunivalu to register the points. Cameron Smith converted from the eastern touchline to take the lead six-nil in favour of the home side.
Just three minutes later the Storm would score again after a number of errors from South Sydney players. The ball ended up in the hands of Cameron Munster to score the four-pointer. Smith converted from close range to establish a 12-nil lead.
Adam Reynolds left the field in the ninth minute with a head knock, forcing a reshuffle of the backline with Robert Jennings coming on to the wing, Bryson Goodwin to fullback and Cody Walker into the halves.
Both sides opportunities to score over the next ten minutes but both sides were held up over the line, firstly Damien Cook in the 15th minute and then Jordan McLean in the 20th minute.
The Storm posted their third try and their second to Vunivalu when he dived over from dummy half in what is one of his easier tries of the season. The Rabbitohs had defended strongly for the previous eight minutes but that one defensive lapse let them down. Smith converted from out wide to establish an 18-point lead for the home side.
Melbourne would catch the Rabbitohs’ defensive line short in the 33rd minute which created space for Josh Addo-Carr to score, with Smith’s conversion extending the Storm’s lead to 24-nil.
In the 38th minute of play, Cameron Smith scored one of the easiest tries of career after the Rabbitohs failed to diffuse a bomb, showing no urgency to shut down the bouncing ball, allowing Smith to stroll through and score adjacent to the posts. He converted his own try to extend the lead to 30 points just short of the break.
South Sydney Members everywhere were mystified in the 39th minute of the first half, when Vunivalu was awarded a penalty try by the video referee, despite Robert Jennings pulling off a what looked to be a cracking try-saving tackle. Smith converted to give the Storm a half time 36-nil lead.
The Rabbitohs only had 32% of the ball in the first half and the scoreboard reflected the Storm’s dominance of the ball. The Rabbitohs had completed 69% of their 13 first half sets and the Storm had completed 87% of their 23 sets.
The Storm picked up where they left off in the first half with Billy Slater scoring in the 45th minute. The Storm peppered the Rabbitohs’ short side and an offload from Cameron Munster sent Slater on his way to the line.
Six minutes later Addo-Carr scored his second try with a 90 metre effort, beating defender after defender to score to the right of the posts despite playing on the left wing. Smith converted to extend the lead to 48.
Tim Glasby would then score a simple try on the back of hard, straight running, and Smith again converted to give the home side a 54-0 lead after 58 minutes.
The Rabbitohs posted their first points in the 64th minute of the match through centre Tyrell Fuimaono. A pin-point cross-field chip kick from Cody Walker found Fuimaono who bustled way through three defenders to score in the left corner. Bryson Goodwin converted from out wide to take the scoreline to 54-6.
The game became spiteful with an all-in push-and-shove breaking out 11 minute from full time. Despite running in from a distance to start the fracas, Will Chambers went unpenalised and Souths captain Sam Burgess was placed on report. From the penalty, Tohu Harris scored the Storm’s tenth try, taking the scoreline to 58-6.
The Rabbitohs had the Storm under pressure in the final minutes with John Sutton being held up over the line. On the next play the Rabbitohs kicked into the in-goal, the ball was scooped up by Vunivalu who charged through the defence to race 85 metres downfield before being chased down bravely by Angus Crichton. Vunivalu kicked before being tackled and Addo-Carr followed through to score his third try. Cameron Munster converted the try to take the score line to 64-6 in favour of the home side.
Despite the lopsided scoreline the Rabbitohs never gave up, putting in a big effort right until the final siren. That was shown through the efforts of Crichton to chase down Vunivalu, and the defensive efforts of himself and Cameron Murray who made 40 and 47 tackles for the match respectively.
South Sydney now need to regroup before taking on the Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium in an away game next Friday night.
Melbourne Storm 64 (Suliasi Vunivalu 3, Josh Addo-Carr 3, Cameron Munster, Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Tim Glasby, Tohu Harris tries; Cameron Smith 9, Cameron Munster goals)
South Sydney Rabbitohs 6 (Tyrell Fuimaono try; Bryson Goodwin goal)