The South Sydney Rabbitohs travelled to the UK to take on the reigning English Super League Champions, St Helens in the World Club Challenge as part of their pre-season, with the Rabbitohs demolishing the English side 39-0 to be named ‘World Champions’.
After clinching victory in the 2014 NRL Telstra Premiership by defeating the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in the Grand Final, the South Sydney Rabbitohs secured a place in the annual World Championship clash. The match-up signalled the first time in South Sydney’s 107 year history that the side had the chance to be named world champions and their first time playing in the UK.
The 2015 World Club Challenge was, for the first time, part of a wider ‘World Club Series’ which saw the Brisbane Broncos take on the Wigan Warriors and the St George Illawarra Dragons face-off against the Warrington Wolves in addition to the Rabbitohs match-up with the Saints – the Australian teams completing a clean sweep to claim bragging rights over their English counterparts.
South Sydney named a full-strength squad for the match against St Helens which included new-recruit Glenn Stewart.
The Rabbitohs display against the reigning English champions was clinical, with the side excelling in both attack and defence. The seven tries to nil effort saw the NRL side run away with a 39 point victory – the largest winning margin in World Club Challenge history. Joel Reddy managed to score two tries, whilst Adam Reynolds was efficient with the boot, slotting five goals from seven attempts along with a field goal.
It didn’t take long for South Sydney to pounce, with Reynolds delivering a perfectly weighted grubber into the narrow in-goal within two minutes of the game, which saw Stewart crash over to claim the opening points of the match. Reynolds converted to make it 6-0. It would be the beginning of a long night for the Saints.
Stewart was once again amongst the action moments later, awarded a penalty which saw Reynolds opt for the shot at goal to extend the margin to 8-0.
The impressive attacking efforts showcased by Souths in the early stages of the game was back up by equally brilliant defence, with Rabbitohs rake, Isaac Luke, pulling of a classic try-saving tackle on Mark Percival who barged over in the corner but was unable to ground the ball before being bundled into touch in-goal.
It wasn’t too long before the men in red and green were on the attack again though, with Reynolds breaking the St Helens line out wide courtesy of some fancy footwork, linking up with Dylan Walker. The young centre proceeded to turn the Saints defence inside out, eventually crossing over for another four-pointer. Reynolds was unable to add the extras, leaving the score at 12-0.
Things turned from bad to worse for the English side when a perfectly executed back-line play saw South Sydney stretch the opposition defence, allowing Greg Inglis to cross the line untouched. Reynolds made no mistake, providing the Rabbitohs with a commanding 18-0 lead.
Souths’ first half efforts were not done there, with John Sutton darting down the short-side before changing the method of attack with a cross-field kick which provided winger, Joel Reddy, with a favourable bounce, resulting in Souths’ fourth try of the evening. Once again, Reynolds was clinical with the conversion, meaning that the Rabbitohs would head to the sheds with a 24-0 lead.
On the resumption, Michael Maguire’s men picked up where they left off, attacking the St Helens line with intent. The Rabbitohs showed that they didn’t plan on being complacent when Chris McQueen contested for an attacking Adam Reynolds cross-field kick, which resulted in Luke Keary picking up the crumbs and scoring, adding to St Helens’ woes. Reynolds had no issues with the conversion, sending the score to 30-0.
Once again, Souths would be the next to post points, this time off the back of bruising defence which pinned the Saints deep within their half. The sturdy defence resulted in an error close to the St Helens try-line and the Rabbitohs didn’t waste their chance, with McQueen capitalising on the mistake by crossing for his side’s sixth try of the match. The margin remained at 34 points after Reynolds was unsuccessful with the conversion attempt.
The defence of the Rabbitohs once again proved to be important in setting up attack, with the men in red and green containing the Saints and gaining good field position. Joel Reddy took advantage of the shift of the ball out to the flank, diving over for his second try of the night, providing the men in green with a 38-0 lead.
Reynolds added his name to the scoresheet once more when he slotted a field-goal with two minutes remaining in the game – sealing a 39-0 victory for the side from Redfern – George Burgess earning Man of the Match honours.
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