Despite starting the game poorly by conceding three tries in thirteen minutes, the South Sydney Rabbitohs responded with a flurry of tries in a masterclass that has their fans with smiles on their faces.
The key factor in the end was simply down to fatigue and tiredness for Manly, who were missing their mobile props and it proved telling as their second half defence crumbled.
As Souths kicked into gear, the star of the show was Souths 5/8 Cody Walker. Involved in everything from scoring tries to setting them up or to just making breaks, he was seemingly unstoppable.
Poor goal-kicking from Manly’s perspective meant that they went into half-time 18-12 down, as a mini Souths revival gave them the edge at the break.
The turning point of the first half proved to be the sin-binning of Manly 5/8 Blake Green for a professional foul which led to two of the three Souths tries before the break.
Despite a mini-resurgence of sorts in the second half by Manly that saw them score one further try courtesy of a miracle ball by lock Jake Trbojevic, that was as good as it got.
Fatigue caught up with the forward pack as Souths continued their rampant rampage to chalk up several more tries and eventually win 38-18 at Lottoland.
Without question, Cody Walker had a career-best game and he drew strong praise from fellow half, Adam Reynolds.
“I thought Cody was our best player today,” Reynolds said after the game.
“He’s been one of our best players last year, he’s come onto the scene and hasn’t taken a backward step and continued to learn and grow. It’s a credit to him, he’s got a young family and he lives his lifestyle better than everyone else that I know, he’s a real family man and when he comes to football he’s a real footballer.
“He takes pride about whatever he does. It’s taken him a while to get into first grade but he’s not missing a beat now, he’s taken his opportunity with both hands.”
Coach Michael Maguire was also pleased with the performance of Alex Johnston at fullback in the absence of Greg Inglis.
“He’s definitely got that in him and now it’s just building on that,” Maguire said.
“He’s always wanted to have a crack at fullback. He’s a South Sydney kid that’s come through all the grades and it’s great to see him excelling like he did [on Saturday] and he’s just got to keep going.”
Despite the loss of several key forwards, that was no excuse in the eyes of Manly coach Trent Barrett.
“We did [miss them] but that was no secret that was going to be a challenge but I thought Nate Myles and ‘BJ’ (Lawrence) and our middles that we had did a good job,” Barrett said after the game.
“That probably wasn’t our problem to be honest. We started really well and to get back to 18-all after we had a few things go against us was good but some of our decisions when we were under fatigue and under the pump weren’t good enough.
“It hurts when you miss those blokes but we knew they were missing, it didn’t sneak up on us.”
Player of the Game:
3. Cody Walker
2. Tom Trbojevic
- Alex Johnston
South Sydney Rabbitohs 38 (Johnston 2, Jennings, Walker, Sutton, Farah tries; Reynolds 7 goals) defeated Manly Sea Eagles 18 (Uate, Kelly, T Trbojevic, Cherry-Evans tries; Walker goal) at Lottoland. Half time: Rabbitohs 18-12. Crowd 10,183.