The South Sydney Rabbitohs have claimed second position on the NRL ladder after defeating the Canberra Raiders by 34-18 in Canberra.
Despite being just four points behind the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles on the NRL ladder, the Rabbitohs consolidated their ranking with the win, by now boasting the best attack and defence in the NRL (421 points for, with only 273 against).
Two penalties to the Raiders inside the first minute of play carried the home-side up-field, with Jarrod Croker taking the second opportunity to boot his side two points ahead after just two minutes.
But the men in red and green would punish the Raiders almost immediately, when a Greg Inglis wrap-around close to the Raiders’ line saw Dylan Walker eventually power over Croker on his way to the try-line in the far corner – the four-pointer putting Walker on an equal nine tries with Alex Johnston for the season. Reynolds missed the conversion attempt leaving the score at 4-2.
Johnston wouldn’t have it though, with Adam Reynolds taking the opportunity to chip the ball to the un-marked Souths Juniors’ winger, who planted the ball down in the same spot as Walker. Reynolds found the GIO Stadium upright to leave it at 8-2.
The Raiders nearly grabbed a four-pointer half-way through the first stanza, when Josh McCrone kicked across the face of goal-line to Alex Johnston’s wing who failed to cleanly diffuse the kick. A contest ensued in the in-goal, but the Raiders came up empty handed.
Souths continued to apply pressure to the Raiders close to their line, with Sami Suiluma dropping an Adam Reynolds kick in the corner on the last tackle to gift the visitors another set. The Rabbitohs took advantage immediately through Bryson Goodwin, who finished a back-line movement to make it 12-2. Reynolds missed his third conversion attempt from the sideline to take the sides to the sheds.
After the break, Walker and Johnston combined to produce one of the best efforts of the season, when Walker grubbered through the ball on the short-side into the in-goal. Anthony Milford misread the kick and instead of booting it out into safety for the Raiders, allowed Johnston to plant the ball down just millimetres inside the dead-ball line in brilliant fashion. The video referee awarded the try to make it 16-2, before Reynolds’ horror night with the boot continued from the touch-line.
Canberra hit back by scoring their first try of the night through Sami Sauiluma – the winger doing well to plant the ball down before being bundled over the touch-line to make it 16-6.
It was the Raiders’ turn to put pressure on the Rabbits, with the men in green nearly claiming another try through Sauiluma. But it was Souths who would score, when Dylan Walker created an opportunity yet again – Johnston taking a flick pass from Walker before drawing the Canberra fullback and passing on to a flying Adam Reynolds to score under the posts. Reynolds converted his first of the night to make it 22-6.
But Souths weren’t done, backing up the try with another on the very next set, this time through Bryson Goodwin – the centre scoring a Gearin-like try off the boot of Luke Keary. Reynolds added the extras to make it 28-6 with 12 minutes remaining.
The floodgates began to open for the Rabbitohs when Adam Reynolds crossed for his second of the night before converting. Two quick tries to Jarrod Croker and Anthony Milford for the Raiders weren’t enough for the home-side, the match finishing 34-18.
Rabbitohs 34 (Dylan Walker, Alex Johnston 2, Bryson Goodwin 2, Adam Reynolds 2, tries; Adam Reynolds 3 goals)
Raiders 18 (Sami Sauiluma, Jarrod Croker, Anthony Milford, tries; Jarrod Croker 3 goals)