Broncos v Rabbitohs
Kick off 8:05pm (AEDT)
Rabbitohs winger Alex Johnston summed it up best this week when he cited the need to ‘start strong’ in the 2015 NRL season. The winger’s sentiments are echoed throughout a Rabbitohs squad coming into the new season as Premiers, Nines Champions and World Club Champions.
“It’s always a challenge to start off the season strong,” said Johnston.
“That’s what we’re hoping to do – just play a great game against the Broncos. It’ll be a great atmosphere and I can’t wait.”
The Rabbitohs will be looking to make it three opening round wins in a row when they take on a new-look Broncos side back under the guidance of coach, Wayne Bennett.
The Queenslanders have named a strong line-up for the clash that includes the likes of attacking weapons such as Justin Hodges and Ben Hunt. Throw in x-factors such as Lachlan Maranta and Dale Copley, and the home side will be difficult to stop in front of what is sure to be a large and vocal home crowd.
Last Time They Met
South Sydney defeated the Brisbane Broncos by 42-16 in round 23 of the 2014 season - the last time the two teams met.
Despite a slow start that saw the Broncos draw first blood, a composed South Sydney went on to score a convincing victory that included a hat-trick for Greg Inglis.
The night had extra special feeling for Rabbitohs forwards, Ben Lowe and Ben Te'o, who celebrated their 100th and 150th games respectively - Ben Lowe grabbing a rare conversion at the death to celebrate.
A Rabbitohs mistake on halfway led to the Broncos receiving a string of back-to-back sets on the red and green line. The mistake would prove costly following a penalty, when Justin Hodges took a Ben Hunt grubber into the in-goal to open the scoring for the night adjacent to the sticks. Corey Parker added the conversion to give the Broncos a six point lead.
Six minutes later though, a penalty against the Broncos yielded points for the Rabbitohs. With the red and greens attacking the Brisbane line on the last tackle, Issac Luke opted to run the short-side before linking up with Greg Inglis, who powered his way over the line to score. Adam Reynolds converted from near the touch-line to level the scores up at six apiece.
From the very next set, a Sam Burgess break almost resulted in a second four-pointer to Alex Johnston, who took an offload from the Rabbitohs lock and sprint towards the try-line, only to be brought down in cover by Lachlan Maranta.
With 14 minutes left in the first half, Adam Reynolds took the opportunity to be creative on the last tackle by chipping over the top on the 40 metre line for a flying Greg Inglis. Inglis proceeded to steamroll Josh Hoffman before throwing the ball back inside to Sam Burgess. But Inglis wasn’t done – backing up Sam Burgess to score a brilliant four-pointer. Adam Reynolds converted to make it 12-6.
Souths were far from done in the first half – backing up the incredible effort with a try to Chris McQueen thanks to a knock-down gone awry from Justin Hodges. Reynolds made no mistake from short-range to bring the score to 18-6.
Souths were at it again from the ensuing kick-off with Dylan Walker, who took off down the touch-line, before being brought down 20 metres short. But despite the missed opportunity, Lote Tuqiri would finish the set with a four-pointer before Reynolds again added the extras to all of a sudden make the score 24-6 going into the break.
On the resumption, it was the Broncos who would draw first points through Sam Thaiday, who ducked through from close range to bring the score to 24-12 with Corey Parker’s conversion.
The Rabbitohs muscled up in defence and managed to repel a number of waves of Bronco attack on their own line. Mercifully, Souths managed to march up-field and get a line drop-out courtesy of a Luke Keary grubber kick that was knocked-on in-goal by Maranta.
The mistake paid dividends for the Rabbitohs when Adam Reynolds opted to kick towards the goal-posts and finding a flying Greg Inglis who streaked through to claim his hat-trick. Reynolds kept up his perfect night with the boot to claim his fifth conversion of the night to make it 30-12.
With the clock winding down, Inglis seemed destined to make it four tries for the night after the Test representative took another kick from Reynolds, but unselfishly passed on to five-eighth Luke Keary, who touched down to make it 36-12.
The Broncos grabbed a late consolation try through Jack Reed, but another four-pointer to the Rabbitohs through Kirisome Auva'a and a rare Ben Lowe conversion in his 100th match, added salt to th Broncos wounds - the Rabbitohs coming away with the points and their 14th win of the season – downing the Brisbane side 42-16.
Against the Broncos
Spotlight – The Second Row
While the Rabbitohs second row has lost some formidable personnel in the form of Sam Burgess and Ben Te’o for this season, far from weakening, the Club’s 2015 back-row poses endless possibilities that we have only just had a glimpse of in recent weeks.
Both Glenn Stewart and John Sutton’s pre-season form wearing the number 11 and 12 jersey’s has been a small revelation, with both players taking on diverse and agile roles in the team. Far from being simple battering rams in the style of their predecessors, Sutton showed plenty of prowess in the form of a second five-eighth, as well as overpowering players on the fringes in the World Club Challenge. Stewart played a similar role, but offered more in the form of vision and opportunism – particularly in the form of his WCC try.
Expect both players to set a new standard for the cardinal and myrtle back row in 2015 as their combination grows.