The South Sydney Rabbitohs ran in a cricket score on the hallowed SCG turf as on an iconic Sunday afternoon against the Wests Tigers back in 2010.
Match report supplied by Michael Curin.
South Sydney wound back the clock with a free-scoring show to belt traditional rivals Wests Tigers 50-10 in their Heritage Round clash at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Nathan Merritt, who memorably scored the match-winning field goal in last year's corresponding fixture, scored a hat-trick and Beau Champion grabbed a double, with both crossing the line in a three-try burst after half-time that turned the match on its head.
Souths coach John Lang revved up his team by reminding them that they were walking into the footsteps of not only club greats like John Sattler and Bob McCarthy, but also those of legendary cricketers like Don Bradman. "We were really buzzing before the game," said Champion.
The only four-pointer for the Tigers in the first half came from returning half-back Robert Lui, who produced a deceptive dummy and shattering left-foot step to cut a hole in the Rabbits' line and score. Marshall's conversion had the scores at that point at 6-all, but Lui quickly turned from hero to villain as Souths lock Ben Lowe fed him some of his own medicine with a show-and-go that made space for Taylor to put the Rabbitohs ahead.
Champion scored early before two uncharacteristic mistakes inside the Tigers' 20m from Benji Marshall gift-wrapped tries for Champion and Merritt. Marshall, looking into the sun, failed to negotiate a difficult bomb and the Rabbitohs scooped up the ball for Champion to cross the line for his sixth pair in seven matches. Shortly thereafter, Marshall forced an unnecessary pass early in the set and the ball bounced off the hands of Chris Lawrence allowing Chris Sandow to pounce and shift the ball quickly to an unmarked Merritt on the right wing.
South Sydney found simple holes in the Tigers' defensive line and capitalised to take an 18-6 lead in to the break, but three tries within nine minutes of the restart totally shut the Tigers out of the game.
With half an hour remaining and an intimidating 34-6 deficit, the Tigers had no way back into the match despite two handling errors robbing them of what would have been consolatory scoring opportunities in attack. As they had done so well all afternoon, South Sydney picked up the pieces from a mistake from the visitors and ran in more points at the other end with Colin Best and Fetuli Talanoa grabbing tries and Merritt completing his treble.
Issac Luke kicked excellently to register seven conversions from nine attempts, with Sandow and imposing back-rower Dave Taylor the other players to score tries. From there on it was all one-way traffic in a memorable and historic afternoon in the Rabbitohs' history, but their only concern perhaps a cork and head-knock to Sam Burgess which forced the England international from the field in the opening half.
Lawrence pulled one try back in the second last minute but there were no celebrations from the Tigers, who reflected on an embarrassing effort that left them with a 4-5 record for the season.
South Sydney 50 (N.Merritt 3, B.Champion 2, D.Taylor, C.Sandow, C.Best, J.Sutton tries; I.Luke 7 goals)
Wests Tigers 10 (R.Lui, C.Lawrence tries; B.Marshall goal)