Coming off the back of a solid performance against the St George Illawarra Dragons in Round 19, the South Sydney Rabbitohs improved upon their previous outing by demolishing the Newcastle Knights 52-6 in Round 20 at ANZ Stadium.
Although South Sydney were in good stead leading into the affair, the Knights would be equally confident after accounting for the Gold Coast Titans with a comprehensive 30-2 victory away from home in Round 19.
Once again, the red and greens were impacted by injury coming into the match, with young-gun, Cameron McInnes, affected by an ankle injury that was expected to keep him out of action for four weeks. Isaac Luke returned from suspension, meaning the Kiwi rake would take McInnes’ spot in the starting line-up.
South Sydney’s dominant display was highlighted by hat-tricks to Greg Inglis and Dylan Walker, as well as a double to Alex Johnston, as the Rabbitohs cruised to a resounding victory.
Newcastle came out firing, opening their account for the night within three minutes, as Kurt Gidley linked up with Kade Snowden who crash over the try-line. Tyrone Roberts added the extras from close range to give his side a 6-0 lead. This would prove to be the highlight of the night for the Novocastrians, as South Sydney would proceed to post 52 unanswered points.
The Rabbitohs points for the night came courtesy of Dylan Walker, with the Kangaroos centre finishing off the play triggered by Isaac Luke who spread the ball to Alex Johnston out of dummy half, putting his winger in space and creating a two on one situation. Reynolds failed to add the extras, leaving the score at 6-4 in favour of the Knights.
It would not be long until the Rabbitohs overcame the deficit, as Newcastle made a costly error close to their line. As a result, Johnston would snare his first try of the night, capitalising on the re-shuffled Knights backline whilst illustrating his agility and strength close to the line to reach out and score. Reynolds made up for his previous conversion attempt, successfully converting from the same position as his last shot at goal and extending the Rabbitohs lead to 10-6.
Another error from the Knights would provide Souths with the chance to continue their master class in attack. The Rabbitohs posted their third try in nine minutes when Luke Keary delivered a perfectly executed short-ball to John Sutton, who was able to offload to Greg Inglis close to the line allowing the custodian to cross the line untouched. Reynolds converted to make it 16-6.
Errors would continue to haunt the men from the Hunter, as a towering spiral bomb from Reynolds was spilt close to the Knights goal-line. The attacking field position was not wasted by the Rabbitohs, as the red and greens smoothly shifted the ball to the right, resulting in Bryson Goodwin scoring out wide. The score was left at 20-6 as Reynolds failed to convert.
The points continued to flow freely for Souths, as Greg Inglis showcased his individual brilliance, slicing through the fatigued Newcastle defence and travelling 35 metres before stretching out to score a brilliant try. Reynolds made no mistake, providing a 26-6 score-line.
South Sydney continued their dominance, exploiting the Knights’ left edge, with Johnston and Walker once again working in tandem. Despite questions surrounding the final pass from the winger to his centre – as well as Walker’s attempted put down- as it appeared that Beau Scott may have brilliantly prevented the try – the four-pointer was awarded. Reynolds’ radar was off once again, meaning the score remained 30-6.
To no-one’s surprise, the Rabbitohs continued their onslaught right until the end of the first stanza, as Greg Inglis added his name to the score-card, dummying at the line and crossing for his hat-trick, becoming the third South Sydney player to bag three tries in a match against the Knights. The try was converted, giving Souths a 36-6 lead headlining into the sheds.
On the resumption, the men in red and green would be the first to score, as Isaac Luke provided Thomas Burgess with a face ball from dummy half which saw the barnstorming front rower barge over from close range to score. Reynolds added the extras from directly in front, setting up a 42-6 score-line.
A rare mistake from the Rabbitohs provided the Knights with a chance to hit back in the contest, but South Sydney proved that they possessed a well-rounded game, muscling up in defence and preventing Newcastle from clawing back.
Newcastle’s woeful night continued, as Alex Johnston once again illustrated his freakish try-scoring ability, with the young-gun outleaping Mata’utai to claim his 13th try of the 2015 season.
Walker grabbed another try courtesy of a Glenn Stewart short-ball before Reynolds converted from close range, with the match finishing 52-6 in favour of the red and greens.