If you had any doubts about the Melbourne Storm heading into the finals, they can now disappear – as the Storm brushed aside an errant Rabbitohs side with ease, producing a mix of clinical execution and too much class for the Bunnies.
The comprehensive 24-6 win at AAMI Park, means that the Storm get the week off to relax and freshen up, whilst the Bunnies have to play next Saturday night against the winner of the Canberra Raiders and Cronulla Sharks game.
It was clear from the start that Melbourne were comfortable, with their style of footy dictating the play and speed of the game – whilst for the Bunnies, they looked in awe of the situation, and could not handle the pressure or expectation placed on them.
Before the game even started, however, the Storm were dealt some cruel blows, with forwards Jason Ryles and Sika Manu ruled out, as well as veteran winger Anthony Quinn.
The Storm prepared them for any ambush that the Bunnies may have had planned, but for Storm captain Cameron Smith, he believed that his side dictated the terms for the majority of the game.
“That was the best 80 minutes we’ve played in a while and it needed to be against Souths,” he said.
“You could tell, they were down here to do a job on us tonight.
“Our boys did a fantastic job through the middle to stand up against their pack.”
The answer behind the loss was simple for Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire – his side were far too ill-disciplined, and were their own worst enemies.
“We didn’t help ourselves with the penalties we gave away in the first half, which accumulated a lot of pressure on ourselves and took us away from what we do well, which is our attack,” said Maguire.
The loss was compounded by news that centre Matt King is out for the season, after suffering a fractured forearm.