These are the key takeaways from South Sydney’s 27-18 win over Cronulla in round one action at Shark Park.
DEPLETED FORWARDS AIM UP
With Junior Tatola gone from a head knock within the opening two minutes and Jai Arrow succumbing to injury midway through the first half, the Rabbitohs bench was called to put in overtime.
Forwards Davvy Moale, Shaq Mitchell, Michael Chee Kam and Tom Burgess were all forced to play extended minutes as a result of the injuries, and they did the job well. All forwards broke the century mark for metres gained, with Burgess running for over 150m and leading all forwards in a truly inspirational display against one of the NRL’s premier forward packs.
ILIAS GOES ABOVE AND BEYOND
The efforts of halfback Lachlan Ilias throughout the contest were exceptional in one of his finest displays in first grade.
He finished with a try and a try assist, as well as two line break assists through the 80 minutes, but perhaps it was his defensive efforts that made the biggest impact.
Ilias was exceptional on the other side of the ball, stopping a near certain try to Ronaldo Mulitalo early on, before coming up with a massive hit on Jack Williams to force a loose carry at a key stage of the second half.
STRETCHING THE SHARKS LEFT SIDE
Campbell Graham was another standout throughout the evening. After a World Cup campaign, the classy centre showed no signs of a sluggish start to the year, coming up with two second half tries, three line breaks and a team-high 195 running metres.
His defence was on show with 19 tackles as well as some key hits, capping off a brilliant individual display and showing the right-side attack is just as potent as the publicised left side.
BOOT OFF TO A BRILLIANT START
We’ve been told time and time again how important a good goalkicker is, and Latrell Mitchell couldn’t have started 2023 any better with this.
He slotted all five conversion and penalty goal attempts as well as a field goal to close out the game, erasing any bad memories from the corresponding fixture last year.
We all know about the attacking prowess the world-class fullback has in store, but he’s one of the most reliable kickers on his day and when he’s converting all attempts at goal, it makes the task at hand all the more easier.
MOMENTUM TAKEN INTO A KEY FIXTURE
It’s no secret that the Rabbitohs have one of the toughest starts in the competition, and it made this week’s win that much more important.
Cronulla finished second on the table last year and the upcoming fixture is against the defending minor premiers and back-to-back champions Penrith.
The Panthers have had the wood over Souths in recent times, but in every defeat the Rabbitohs have been well in the fight.
On the back of a good win on the road and with the Panthers losing their first game of the season, the time has never been better for the Rabbitohs to roll into Penrith and walk out with the two points.
Round 1 - Sun 03 Mar
Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas3624