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Rabbitohs Spine Surges in 12 Point Victory over the Roosters

It may have taken three games but it was one worth waiting for as Jason Demetriou claimed his first win as an NRL head coach in thrilling fashion. And the 28-16 victory was all the more special as the Rabbitohs fought tooth and nail in their fourth straight win over the Tri-colours for the first time since the 1987-88 season.

Cody Walker doing what he does best

It might only be round three but there was plenty riding on the Rabbitohs ability to showcase their strengths and outclass their bitter rivals… and it was the captain who steered the ship from the get go. Cameron Murray gave his home faithful some reason to cheer just eight minutes into the match. A tidy cut out pass from Damien Cook and the show and go from Cam saw the Souths skipper slice the Roosters open and get the Rabbitohs rolling after what’s been an unlucky start to the season.

“I benched him last week so it’s worked a treat… laughs … and that’s why he’s captain of the team, I thought the last two weeks he’s done exactly what we know he’s capable of. We kept it all about us, going out and improving what we did in the second half against Melbourne.” Head coach Jason Demetriou said.

Murray continued to make his touches count as he punished the Roosters by scooping up a loose ball from James Tedesco, then found Alex Johnston in support who went on to extend the Rabbitohs lead and claim his second try of the season.

The Rabbitohs pick the Roosters pocket

South Sydney starved the Roosters of possession as they controlled the momentum in the opening half. The Rabbitohs attacked both sides of the field and completed sets early to give their star players license to roam. And that’s exactly what Damien Cook did… putting the Roosters defence under pressure and injecting himself at every chance to make certain his 150th milestone match was one to remember. 

“I wanted him to be Damien tonight and I thought he represented himself really well. I think he set a standard for bringing our forwards into the game better as well… I’m really happy that he was able to do that and I thought he was well supported.”

Defence had to be a major improvement on the Rabbitohs opening two rounds if they were any chance of outclassing Trent Robinson’s Roosters. It took until the 24th minute for the tri-colours to open their account as the Rabbitohs desperately defended back to back sets on their line to concede just the one try in the opening half.

“I was confident that if we upped the intensity with our defence and played through the middle third we’d get some joy and we did that… probably unlucky not to get a couple more.” Demetriou said.

Mitchell scores a freakish Souths try

The Rabbitohs spine was firing… showing glimpses of what to expect throughout the season and youngster Lachlan Ilias again proved his class in crucial moments. He helped set up Walker in the 44th minute but it was his cool, calm and collected demeanour that had Demetriou full of praise for his young halfback.

“He’s doing his job and he’s doing it well, the biggest thing he’s doing is holding his end up defensively, he’s a young half and the hardest thing he’ll do in first grade is defend in the front line. He’s got a real physical presence there, he’s not over ruled with that and it keeps him calm with the footy as well... his pop pass that helped set up Cody Walker showed his maturity… I’ve said it before Lachlan has a big future at this club and I’m excited to be his coach.” Demetriou said.

The Rabbitohs left side lit up again when Johnston tip toed down the touch line before kicking it back in for Mitchell to crash over, only for the bunker to call no try. It was 18-10 to the Rabbitohs… they’d just been dismissed a chance to extend their lead before Keaon Koloamatangi used his power and size from close range to run over the top of Sam Walker and give his side some breathing room. But before Rabbitohs fans could finish celebrating they were holding their breath once again as the bunker called no try.

But it was third time lucky as Keaon wouldn’t take no for an answer. His gritty style of play wouldn’t go unnoticed as he lured the Roosters outside edge… but they couldn’t stop the 23 year old as he made his opposition pay 63 minutes in.

Koloamatangi extends the lead

Minutes later Accor stadium erupted once again when Jaxson Paulo picked up the scraps and offloaded to Alex Johnston. Quick hands back on the inside from AJ released Latrell on the outside with 60 metres of pasture in front of him. Nat Butcher took chase but would have been better off standing and applauding like the rest of the crowd in what was South Sydney’s try of the year to date. With less than 14 minutes on the clock and a 28-10 lead, the Rabbitohs looked well and truly home.

“It’s obviously just reward… his discipline off the field, the way he’s training, he’s maturing as well, he’s living what he’s speaking as well which is important.” Demetriou said.

The Mitchell/Manu rivalry took flight in their first encounter since Mitchell’s high shot on Joseph saw him suspended for six games back in round 24 last year. Both players had their moments crossing the try line and they made sure their emotions were heard loud and clear with grins from ear to ear.

Mitchell scores a freakish Souths try

“Latrell has been pretty excited all pre season just to get back out there and I know it hurt not being able to get out there round one… he’s been working really hard and I think he’s only going to get better.” Captain Cameron Murray said.

The Rabbitohs will go into their grand final rematch reeling with confidence when the reigning champions host South Sydney at Penrith stadium next Friday night.

Acknowledgement of Country

South Sydney Rabbitohs respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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