In one of their best games of the season so far, the South Sydney Rabbitohs have put other NRL teams on notice, producing hard-fought but deserved 31-18 win over the North Queensland Cowboys.
In a match that pitted two competition heavyweights against each other at 1300 Smiles Stadium in Townsville, the reigning premiers proved that they have the quality in their side to push for back-to-back premierships.
The battle of the forwards was an intriguing one throughout and with Souths plan to continue to bash it through the middle, they slowed down the momentum and go-forward of the Cowboys.
The plan worked, as the Cowboys forwards were forced to defend more than usual, nullifying their attacking go-forward throughout the game.
With many billing the game as a finals preview, the aggression of the Souths side was telling as they gained momentum and a roll-on, often frustrating the Cowboys side.
There were see-sawing moments of momentum and although the Cowboys did not play badly, they were simply out-enthused and out-worked by a Souths side that was hungrier for the win.
The Cowboys loss is the first time they have lost back-to-back games since Rd 1 and 2 of this season.
Although pleased with his side’s strong performance, Souths coach Michael Maguire does not want to get too carried away, knowing there are still a few weeks left of the season.
“You’re trying to take us into something that is a long way down the track; it’s three or four weeks away,” Maguire said.
“Really, we’ve got this next week to grow on what we did out there tonight. We didn’t perform the way we’d like last week and we’ve got to make sure we back up what tonight’s performance was about and that is the boys doing a job for each other.”
Energy is everything in rugby league and Cowboys coach Paul Green thought his side were better in that department despite the loss, than in previous weeks.
“I thought our energy and urgency and enthusiasm was a step in the right direction,” he said.
“I thought it’d been better [tonight than usual]. The last eight games have been a bit tricky for us but tonight I thought we took some steps in the right direction, particularly defensively. I thought we were able to put them under some pressure, but we weren’t able to sustain it.”
Player of the Game:
3. Thomas Burgess
2. Isaac Luke
1. Michael Morgan
South Sydney Rabbitohs 31 (Greg Inglis, Thomas Burgess, Jason Clark, Alex Johnston, Dylan Walker tries; Adam Reynolds 5 goals; Adam Reynolds field goal) def North Queensland Cowboys 18 (Justin O’Neill, Lachlan Coote, Michael Morgan tries; Johnathan Thurston 3 goals) at 1300SMILES Stadium. Half-time: Rabbitohs 13-12. On Report: Issac Luke (Rabbitohs, 43rd minute)