Classic Match: Round 14, 1988
In the first ever meeting between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and Brisbane Broncos, Craig Coleman and Phil Blake outclassed their Brisbane rivals Wally Lewis and Allan Langer to secure a 16-4 win.
Match report supplied by Michael Curin.
Rabbitoh captain Mario Fenech called it “our most crucial win of the season”, and his coach George Piggins said it was “as well as we’ve ever played” and “the best defence in three years”.
The self-praise was all earned.
The Rabbitohs once again showed they love the night life with a glittering display under lights at the Sydney Football Stadium. In particular, they produced a sensational and near-faultless opening 40 minutes which justified all of Piggins’ superlatives.
The Broncos were virtually reduced to a herd of hornless, broken-down bulls in the face of a South Sydney attacking and defensive onslaught. When they had the ball the Rabbitohs were positive and constructive and the forwards made acres of ground and backed up brilliantly.
The Bronco forwards were driven virtually back to Brisbane.
Fenech had full control from dummy-half and forwards such as Wayne Chisholm and David Hosking drove onto the ball. This provided heaps of room in which the backs could manoeuvre and they made telling use of it.
Halfback Phil Blake was at his elusive best, five-eighth Craig Coleman fired beautifully-timed passes, Paul Roberts showed his move to the centres was a masterstroke by Piggins and winger Adam O’Neill was pacy and slippery.
In fact, Souths all looked like world-beaters. They stuck with real venom in defence, often jolting the ball from Brisbane hands with Chisholm leading the way.
It was all over with the score of 16-0 at halftime. Souths only had to defend stoutly and they did.
“Our defence was just too strong,” Piggins said. “They panicked a bit and we were able to capitalise. Our half-five-eighth combination [of Blake and Coleman] paved the way for the win.
Asked about the return of such prominent representative forwards as Ian Roberts, David Boyle and Les Davidson, Piggins said: “I’d hate to drop anyone.”
Broncos coach, Wayne Bennett, could say little more than “we were pretty ordinary, and not much better in the second half. Souths played pretty well, almost mistake-free in the first half.”
South Sydney 16 (A.O'Neill, B.Longbottom, P.Blake tries; M.Ellison 2 goals)
Brisbane 6 (B.Le Man try; T.Matterson goal) at Sydney Football Stadium
Friday night, June 17, 1988 (7.30pm).
Weather: Overcast, few light showers.
Referee: Greg McCallum
Touch Judges: Ian McCall, Michael Howell
Halftime: Souths 16‐0
Scrums: Souths 12‐9
Penalties: Souths 12‐10
SOUTHS: Bronko Djura; Bruce Longbottom, Paul Roberts, Michael Blake, Adam O'Neill; Craig Coleman, Phil Blake; Michael Andrews, Wayne Chisholm, Mark Ellison, Darren Maroon, Mario Fenech (c), David Hosking. Replacements: Graham Lyons (for Hosking, 22 min), Trevor Tuckwell (for Ellison, 28 min), David Cruickshank (for Longbottom, half‐time). Coach: George Piggins.
BRISBANE: Shane Duffy; Michael Hancock, Rohan Teevan, Chris Johns, Joe Kilroy; Wally Lewis (c), Allan Langer; Terry Matterson, Brett Le Man, Gene Miles, Andrew Tessmann, Greg Conescu, Greg Dowling. Replacement: Billy Noke (for Johns, 22 min). Coach: Wayne Bennett.
14 min: South Sydney 2‐0 (Ellison goal)
18 min: South Sydney 6‐0 (O'Neill try)
22 min: South Sydney 10‐0 (Longbottom try)
36 min: South Sydney 16‐0 (P.Blake try; Ellison goal)
46 min: South Sydney 16‐6 (Le Man try; Matterson goal)