Five Takeaways From Round 10

It was a top-four clash of the ages against the Canberra Raiders down in the nation's capital. 

Here are my Five Takeaways.

 

Frustrating First Half

Well if you were anything like me, you would have been feeling the frustration from captain Sam Burgess.

The Raiders seemed to get under our skin throughout the first half, at one time getting eight penalties in a row after intentionally trapping our players in the ruck. 

In fact, the first half had more penalties than most games had averaged all year, with thirteen, and it was no surprise to see the only points scored by the break all being penalty goals. 

But halftime was a blessing as the men in Red and Green had a chance to reset and reassess (as I’m sure many of us did in the stands and at home) which then brought a much more composed performance in the second forty. That then allowed the side to revert back to their more comfortable and fluid style of play, which eventually bore the victory.

 

Bringing the Heat to Canberra

The mercury read six degrees, but there was plenty of heat between these two teams throughout the full eighty. 

Our rivalry with the Raiders only had a small flare-up in our 30-year history which happened in the late eighties where the lime green washed away our premiership hopes in 1987 and 1989.

Since then though, the fortunes of both teams have ebbed and flowed, with only one finals meeting in 2012 seeing the Rabbitohs triumph 38-16 to get into the preliminary final. 

Sam Burgess was public enemy number one as the younger contingent of Raiders forwards looked to rile up our inspirational leader, and while it worked in the first half, big Sammy had the last laugh as the green machine’s engine started to run on empty by the end of the match, and were unable to repel the Redfern Brick Wall. 

But now the Raiders look to be a real contender for the Premiership - and I look forward to seeing if a red hot rivalry can emerge - hopefully with a finals meeting later this season on the cards. 

A Tight Affair

It was certainly one of the lowest scoring victories in recent memory.

For the first time all year, we were kept tryless at halftime, but in saying that, so were the Raiders, with three penalty goals to two making it a two-point difference at the break.

With the Rabbitohs and Raiders both in the top four positions on the ladder, and in the top four in defence, a low-scoring affair was bound to happen, and in the end three tries were scored from both sides, all in the last half hour. 

But in another display of our defensive prowess, the Rabbitohs held on in a 16-12 victory, and in a stat that will be pleasing for Rabbitohs enthusiasts everywhere, since Round 5 the side has only conceded an average of twelve points a game. 

 

Spine-Tingling Final Quarter 

With not a whole lot happening in the first 50 minutes, it was the men in the South Sydney spine who stood up tallest in the last half hour of the match.

First, it was Damien Cook and Cody Walker who combined to send the mercurial five-eighth over for his eleventh try of the year, which was also the first try of the match which put us back in the lead.

Walker then popped up again with less than ten minutes to go to put youngster Mawene Hiroti over for his maiden NRL try, which ultimately ended up being the try to determine the match. 

But that wasn’t before Adam Reynolds - who admittedly didn’t have the best of nights -  put in the play that made all the difference, by nailing the sideline conversion to give the Red and Green a four-point lead instead of a two-point lead, all the more important considering how tight the contest was. 

It was then young Corey Alan, playing in his first NRL game at fullback, who staved off a Raiders attacking play by stripping the ball from Jarrod Croker in one of the defensive plays of the match. 

In close game situations, it's so satisfying to see our 1, 6, 7 and 9 step up when they need to  - and it'll make all the difference come September when we are hopefully vying for that elusive premiership. 

 

Well Deserved Just Desserts

There were two well-deserved milestones in this one.

The first being Mark Nicholls playing his 50th NRL match.

It’s been a long time coming for the veteran of seven seasons, ironically against the Club he debuted for back in 2012. He has now made a real home at South Sydney, playing a majority of his career matches in the Cardinal and Myrtle, and he had a tradesman-like performance off the bench. 

The second milestone of the night was Mawene Hiroti’s try, his first in the NRL after making his debut in Round 23, 2018. Starring in the Canterbury Cup this season with six tries in his last six outings, the 20-year-old New Zealander was solid throughout the night and will have a good opportunity to impress over the next few weeks with fullback Alex Johnston out.

And let’s not forget. We’re up on top of the ladder! 

 

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