The South Sydney Rabbitohs accounted for the Newcastle Knights by 50-10 in Cairns in round 21, with Alex Johnston scoring a hat-trick.
Kirisome Auva’a also grabbed a double double and another brilliant four-pointer from Dylan Walker – reminiscent of his 2013 Cairns effort – were among a number of highlights played out in the humid conditions in tropical North Queensland.
Both sides enjoyed opportunities on their own try-line inside the first 10 minutes of play, but neither team was able to crack the defence.
But leave it to hooker Issac Luke to spark the Rabbitohs into action – the number nine making easy metres up the middle before being brought down 15 metres out. From the ensuing set, a backline movement sent Auva’a over in the corner to open the scoring. Adam Reynolds failed to convert leaving the score at 4-0.
Luke was at it again half-way through the opening stanza when he opted to attack the Knights short-side inside the 20 metre line. Luke danced through the staggered Newcastle defence before passing on to Lote Tuqiri who powered over for South Sydney’s second to make it 8-0.
Thomas Burgess then got his name on the score-card with a barn-storming run from close-range before reaching out his arm to score his first four-pointer. Reynolds converted from right in front to bring the score to 14-0 in the Rabbitohs’ favour.
Cairns then began to build a reputation for producing brilliant four-pointers, with a Dylan Walker try reminiscent of 2013’s try of the year being scored. Adam Reynolds’ unsuccessful chip for himself on the 30 metre line was cleaned up in uncharacteristic fashion by the returning Chris McQueen, who crossed the ball with his left foot out to Walker who scored in fine fashion. Reynolds added the extras to bring the score to 20-0.
The Rabbitohs built even more momentum when Adam Reynolds kicked a booming forty-twenty. But despite the referees needing to check the effort, the Rabbitohs still managed to take full advantage when birthday boy McQueen attacked the Knights line before reaching his arm out to score. Reynolds converted to take the Rabbitohs to the sheds leading 26-0.
The second stanza didn’t start well for the Knights when they gave away a penalty on just the second tackle. The Rabbitohs wasted no time in making Newcastle pay for the error when newly anointed skipper Greg Inglis streaked over thanks to some well-timed passing from Luke Keary and Jason Clark. Reynolds added the extras from out wide to make it 32-0.
But a Rabbitohs mistake would change the tide momentarily, leading to Knights winger Jake Mamo getting Newcastle’s first points of the afternoon before Adam Clydsdale got the side’s second just minutes later on the back of the Rabbitohs' kick-off going out on the full.
The two quick Knights tries woke up the Rabbitohs, and it was prolific try-scorer Alex Johnston who finished off a backline movement to cross the stripe before bettering the position to touch down to make it 36-10.
With 19 minutes in the match remaining and the Knights attacking the Rabbitohs line, a wayward pass was picked up by Auva’a who then passed on to an electric Johnston. Johnston’s pace outgunned the whole of the Knights team – the young gun picking up his second of the afternoon. Reynolds converted to make it 42-10.
Johnston then picked up his third of the afternoon when he again finished off a Rabbitohs backline movement that sent him over the stripe in the far corner. Reynolds’ conversion attempt hit the upright, leaving the score at 46-10.
The Rabbitohs then racked up the half-century when Dylan Walker broke through the Newcastle defence before kicking ahead from the 40 metre line for Auva’a to grab his second, making it 50-10 with four minutes left.
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