The South Sydney Rabbitohs continued their run of form against the New Zealand Warriors in Round 13, accounting for the seventh placed team 36-4 at nib Stadium, extending the red and green winning streak to three.
The Rabbitohs were hoping to continue the success that they had enjoyed playing in Western Australia over the previous two seasons, which included resounding victories against the Warriors – 30-13 in 2013 and 34-18 in 2014 – as well as setting consecutive ground attendance records for the venue.
Although the Rabbitohs appeared to have the advantage over their trans-Tasman opposition, the Warriors were in a rich vein of form, seizing three straight victories coming into the rendezvous.
Despite Greg Inglis suffering a head-knock that saw him escorted from the field against the Titans, Coach Michael Maguire announced an unchanged line-up to the one that took the field in Round 12. A minor late change was made when Ben Lowe started the match in place of Jason Clark, who slipped back to the bench.
Unlike their victories from the previous weeks – which saw the Rabbitohs claim grinding victories – the encounter against the Warriors was a more free-flowing affair for the men in red in green, who showcased their attacking and defensive prowess.
The Rabbitohs were first off the mark, posting first points courtesy of Bryson Goodwin, who appeared to be held 10 metres from the Warriors line before being told to play on by the referee, allowing him to get up and dive over. Isaac Luke converted the try, providing his side with a 6-0 lead.
Despite both teams playing enterprising football and attacking the opposition line in good field position, neither side could capitalize on their opportunities.
South Sydney were next to add to their tally as the Warriors conceded a penalty in front of the uprights, gifting the red and greens with two points via the boot of Luke.
It wasn’t long before the Warriors got on the board though, with the New Zealander’s perfectly executing a set-play and shifting the ball to Manu Vatuvei on the flank – the barn-storming winger showing immense strength to score out wide despite the efforts of the Rabbitoh defence. Shaun Johnson’s conversion attempt was waved way, leaving the score at 6-4 in favour of Souths.
The remainder of proceedings would be dominated by the Rabbitohs, as the Kiwis struggled to string together threatening passages of attack. On the other hand, the Rabbitohs kept the scoreboard ticking over, as Luke opted for another penalty goal to extend his side’s lead to 10-4.
Once again, the Rabbitohs were on the attack, this time courtesy of a Dylan Walker break that had the New Zealand defence scrambling, setting up a try for Chris Grevsmuhl down the short-side. Luke had no problems adding the extra points to provide Souths with a 16-4 lead with three minutes left in the opening period.
With half-time fast approaching, Souths were far from done. A Warriors handling error gifted the Rabbitohs with good attacking position and Tim Grant would prove to be the beneficiary, as the big front-rower went on a barnstorming run and wrestled his way over the try-line for a four-pointer. Once again, Luke added the two points with ease to take the half-time score to 22-4.
On the resumption, the home-side dominated possession before taking advantage of the fatigued Warrior defence, with Dylan Walker casually shrugging off a New Zealand defender to stroll over for a try. Luke continued his fine form with the boot, converting the try.
Walker continued to feature heavily in attack, with the representative centre toying with the Kiwi defence by stopping, weaving and breaking tackles before linking up with Alex Johnston, who in-turn beat Vatuvei on the outside to maintain his tremendous try scoring record. Luke came up with a rare miss to leave the score at 32-4.
Unsurprisingly, the Rabbitohs continued to exploit the New Zealand defence as Walker continued his brilliant second-half display, slicing through the Warrior defence on their left-edge, crossing for his second try in his 50th NRL appearance. That would prove to be the final points of the match, as South Sydney charged to a resounding 36-4 victory.