The Bunnies have not only notched up an upset win against the high flying Manly Sea Eagles today, but have put a staggering 40 points past the usual rock solid Eagles defence in a confidence boosting win for the Jason Taylor coached side.
While Souths played like they didn’t have a care in the world, the Manly Sea Eagles side chasing a possible NRL minor premiership looked disinterested and obviously took the lowly ranked Rabbitohs too lightly. Apart from flashes of brilliance from Steve Matai, Steve Bell and fullback Brett Stewart – the Eagles didn’t muscle up anywhere near enough and in the end a late try flattered them on the scoreboard.
Bunnies custodian Nathan Merritt got himself a 3 try haul to really stick it to Manly, but the speedy Souths back had plenty of help – with captain Roy Asotasi running like a centre at various stages and giving Souths plenty of thrust. Rookie halfback Chris Sandow continues to amaze punters with his skills and fleet of foot in and around the ruck; the improving half also had a majestic day with the boot – his long kicking game superb and his chips and grubbers were pinpoint.
The Sea Eagles have now gifted Melbourne a head start in the race for the minor premiership and shot at giving their club a $100,000 kicker for coming in first after the regular season, Des Hasler not doubt frustrated after his side allowed 7 tries through.
Up 22-10 at the break and playing against a Sea Eagles side down to 12 men after Steve Matai had been sin-binned just before halftime for a professional foul, it looked like Souths would have the perfect opportunity to open up a match-winning lead.
Instead it was the undermanned Sea Eagles who found their rhythm, Steve Menzies scoring twice in the 13-minute spree which also saw Brett Stewart score his second of the afternoon for a 26-22 lead to the visitors.
But again the Bunnies came back, two Chris Sandow kicks – the first a clever chip back towards the post and the other a towering bomb – putting South Sydney back into a lead they would never relinquish.
Worse was to come for Manly with star backrower Anthony Watmough put on report for a high tackle on Beau Champion before Roy Asotasi completed the Sea Eagles’ worst defensive display of the year with a try three minutes from time.
With little to play for except pride, the Rabbitohs played like a team under little pressure as they tested their arm and Manly’s premiership fortitude.
Despite giving up an early try to Steve Bell, it was the Bunnies who controlled much of the first half with Fetuli Talanoa and Jamie Simpson – who brilliantly dodged the corner post before putting the ball down – giving the Bunnies an 8-4 lead.
Brett Stewart raced through some flimsy defence and 90 metres to again put Manly up.
But a Merritt double inside two minutes, when he backed up busts through the middle of the ruck by John Sutton and Sandow respectively, ensured it was the home side who went to the break the happier side.
Matai was binned just before halftime for holding down Sandow close to his own line and was then the target of a bolt thrown from the crowd as he made his way to the sheds, the missile narrowly missing a Manly official.
SOUTH SYDNEY 40 (N Merritt 3 R Asotasi I Luke J Simpson F Talanoa tries I Luke 4 C Sandow 2 goals)
bt MANLY 32 (S Menzies 2 B Stewart 2 S Bell J Perry tries S Matai 2 M Orford 2 goals)