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Key Takeaways – Rabbitohs vs Sea Eagles

The Rabbitohs celebrated Cody Walker’s 150th NRL game with an impressive 40-22 win over the Manly Sea Eagles on Friday night in Gosford. Here are some of the key takeaways from the game.

Walker leads the way on his special night

Cody Walker took his performance to another level on his 150th NRL game, inspiring the Rabbitohs in attack and guiding them through a trick start.

Despite having a numerical advantage on the field, the Rabbitohs found themselves behind by eight points in the opening 20 minutes. Walker rallied the troops and took firm control of the game from this point onwards, having a hand in the first two tries, before eventually getting on the board in the second-half with a try of his own.

Walker scores from Tass offload

After Keaon Koloamatangi crashed over for the opening try for Souths, Walker ignited his side to re-gather control of the game, motivating his teammates in the huddle post-try and displayed his immense leadership skills in the process.

Walker went on to have a memorable game with two, try-assists, line-break assists and tackle-breaks, to go along with a line break and crucially a game-sealing try in the 50th minute.

Not only did he lead with his actions and ball distribution, Walker had a superb kicking game, notching up 203 kick-metres from ten attempts and forcing Manly deep into their own half to start their sets.

Walker was embraced by his teammates after his four-pointer and poured his emotions out in a touching tribute to his late-mother. It was a game to remember for the star five-eighth, as he reminded the NRL of his true quality in leading the Rabbitohs attack.

Forwards take advantage of the extra man

When Karl Lawton was sent off in the 8th minute for a dangerous tackle on Cameron Murray, the Rabbitohs were given a golden opportunity to seize the momentum of the game.

Although Manly got off to a hot start down a man, the Rabbitohs firmly took control of the game from the 20th minute and never looked back.

Crucial to the Rabbitohs success on Friday night was the impressive showing from the forwards. In the first-half, Souths had made 34 more tackles than their opponents, despite having the same amount of sets. The work on the defensive end translated into some courageous runs forward, as the fatigue from the work in defence didn’t seem to harm the pack.

Burgess barges over

Thomas Burgess starred for the Rabbitohs, with a 186 run metres, 76 post-contact metres, six tackle breaks, along with an unlikely try to start the Rabbitohs second-half scoring.

After managing to safely escape the Lawton tackle, Murray excelled with 117 run metres, two offloads, a line break and 36 tackles, rounding off a memorable night with a try under the sticks.

Murray seals it for Souths

The forward pack as a whole, ran 348 metres more than their opposition, having six more line breaks in the process, asserting their dominance over the under-manned Sea Eagles pack.

Cook and Murray extended their lead in first and second place respectively on the tackles leader board for the NRL this season. Cook leads the NRL with 377 tackles, with Murray closing in on second with 363.

The Rabbitohs pack was depleted heading into the game and had to rely on the experienced heads to get them through the adversary, ultimately leading them to victory.

Another dominant showing from the backline

The backline for Souths was instrumental in getting them out of their own area from kick returns, also proving to be crucial in the second-half with some stellar runs at the Manly defensive line.

Campbell Graham lead the Rabbitohs backline, in what was another spectacular showing from the origin hopeful.

Graham led all Souths’ players in run metres (190) and post contact metres (78), capping off his evening with 24 tackles, a try assist and a line break assist.

Blake Taaffe had another stellar showing at the back, notching up an impressive 86 run metres, along with 45 kick return metres and rounded out the scoring for the night in the final minute.

Taaffe scores in front of family

Isaiah Tass and Alex Johnston created a formattable connection on the left edge, with Tass setting up Johnston before managing to get himself on the scoreboard before the end of the first-half. The pair was crucial in the Rabbitohs start of sets, getting them out of danger on many occasions and causing plenty of issues for the Manly defence

Mitchell and Tass highlight Rabbitohs’ impressive squad depth.

As coach Jason Demetriou noted in the post-match press conference, the Rabbitohs were dealt a massive blow, when three players were ruled out in the captains’ run. Demetriou was forced to reshuffle his interchange, gifting Shaquai Mitchell the chance to make his highly anticipated NRL debut.

Mitchell made his debut early on in the second-half and made an immediate impact. With his first run of the ball, it took several Manly players to get him down and allowed for his forwards to get into open spaces. Mitchell finished off the game with 25 metres from just three runs, putting his imposing footprint on the game.

After making his NRL debut on Good Friday against the Bulldogs, Isaiah Tass was called upon to replace Taane Milne. Despite a couple of defensive errors, Isaiah Tass showed composure beyond his years, setting up a Cody Walker try in his 150th game and crossing the line for his own four pointer just before half time. 

Tass makes it 2 from 2

Siliva Havili staked his claim to becoming a regular off the bench, with an outstanding 123 run metres and a try assist, in just 43 minutes of play.

With the squad down on numbers, Demetriou looked to his rotation to continue the momentum set by the starters and they did not disappoint. With the Rabbitohs welcoming back some of the regular squad players in the coming weeks, Demetriou has a good issue on his hands when selecting his squads going forward.

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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