South Sydney have extended their winning streak over the Newcastle Knights to nine straight matches, leading from start to finish in a 36-18 victory at McDonald Jones Stadium.
With NSW Blues hopeful Damien Cook once again playing a starring role, Anthony Seibold's team got off to a quick start with two tries in the first 12 minutes. Cook received strong support from halfback Adam Reynolds and fullback Alex Johnston.
The Rabbitohs made amends for last week's surprise home loss to Brisbane and are now one of five teams with five wins in 2018.
They wasted little time silencing the home crowd, Johnston slicing through a gaping hole in the Knights backline in their first set of six to send Robert Jennings over for the opening try.
Newcastle were their own worst enemy, giving away two penalties in the next set and gifting the Rabbitohs perfect field position. Cody Walker then waltzed through some soft defence to put the ball down right next to the posts.
Match: Knights v Rabbitohs
Round 9 -
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
When the hosts got the ball in their hands they were just as dangerous. Shaun Kenny-Dowall found a gap with an electrifying run to get the Knights into Souths territory and the long-striding winger finished the set with a try to pull the score back to 12-4.
South Sydney's third try of the night was again the result of poor Newcastle defence. After collecting a monster line drop out at their own 30-metre line, the Rabbitohs picked up easy metres and Campbell Graham was left wide open to score on the wing and extend the lead to 12 points.
As they have shown many times in 2018 the Knights refuse to panic and they hit back with a double strike before the break. Sione Mata'utia wriggled his way out of a tackle to slam the ball down and get his side to within eight before Kenny-Dowall capped a fine first half with his second try.
The Knights carried that momentum into the second stanza and should have levelled the scores when Kalyn Ponga put Ken Sio across in the left corner with a bullet pass in the 44th minute.
In what would prove the match-changing moment, Sio spilled the ball over the line after Angus Crichton across in cover and knocked the ball loose.
A minute later, Sio spilled a bomb down his own end and Dane Gagai fell on the ball to score. Suddenly the margin was 10 points and the Knights were rattled.
That allowed Souths to seize back momentum and an explosive solo run by Cook out of dummy half gave the visitors their fifth try. The sizzling 30-metre burst was yet another reminder to Blues coach Brad Fittler of Cook's value.
Two penalty goals to Adam Reynolds then put the game to bed.
Ponga gave the huge home crowd of 22,718 some late joy when he produced his dazzling trademark footwork to put Lachlan Fitzgibbon into a hole over in the 70th minute but it was too little too late.
Greg Inglis put the icing on the cake with a four-pointer in the 78th minute to move the Rabbitohs to fifth on the ladder.
News & Notes ...
Cody Walker played just days after his mother passed away...Jacob Lillyman left the field for a HIA, and returned later in the first half...Campbell Graham's try was the first of his career...Souths completed 17/17 in the first half...Lachlan Fitzgibbon has now scored in seven tries in his past six matches at McDonald Jones Stadium.