One of the biggest rivalries in Australian Rugby League history, the annual clashes between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Sydney Roosters are always fiery and full of passion.
The final result may not have been one that many would expect but it was the perfect start for the Bunnies, as they routed the Roosters 42-10 with a clinical display.
Whilst the Bunnies were fluid in attack, it was the complete opposite for the Roosters. Forced to play inexperienced duo Jackson Hastings and Jayden Nikorima, they struggled, with execution when it mattered the biggest issue.
It was all about the Bunnies to begin with, as they started with the ascendancy and ran out to a comprehensive lead on the back of the creativity by Adam Reynolds.
A lot of eyes were on two things for Souths – the return of Sam Burgess to the NRL and the Souths side as well as the debut of Cody Walker, replacing the suspended Luke Keary.
Debutant Walker impressed and will have a further chance to do so, with the likelihood of Adam Reynolds facing an injury lay-off.
The win for Souths was significantly soured by potential long-term injuries to Adam Reynolds (broken jaw) and John Sutton (possible pectoral muscle tear).
For much of the game, the Roosters did struggle, but the shining light was the finishing and speed by English winger, Joe Burgess, who made his NRL debut.
At times, the Roosters defence resembled that of the U10’s, easier to cut through than butter. And with no easy game in the NRL these days, the Roosters will hope that improves moving forward.
With several players injured and clearly missing the departed players, the Roosters did struggle, as coach Trent Robinson admitted that his side was just not good enough on the day with the side they picked.
“We played with the best team that we had today and we weren’t good enough,” coach Trent Robinson said.
“It wasn’t down to those young guys to pull us into a winning position today. It was a defensive role that we needed to play and it was around some of our senior guys that we didn’t get it done early.”
With all eyes on Burgess, he was his usual self, performing and playing well. One noticeable aspect for Souths coach Michael Maguire was an increased aptitude for leadership on his part.
“There’s not a whole heap of change in Sam. What I have seen â€“ I guess you mature throughout your career and Sammy’s leadership is probably one that I would definitely say has grown since he’s been gone,” Maguire said.
“Sam has experienced a lot of things in the last 12 months but that adds to the character of the person and we know that Sam’s got a great character.”
The scoreline and the interchanges were not interrelated, with Robinson not going down that path as a reason for the loss.
“The first 20 minutes people don’t make interchanges,” he said.
“We’re probably lucky they got a bit scrappy as well in that second half and that’s probably what we’ve seen more so over the games.”
Player of the Game:
3. Adam Reynolds
2. Paul Carter
1. Dale Copley
South Sydney Rabbitohs 42 (McInnes, Gray, Carter, Johnston, Inglis, Turner, Goodwin, Hunt tries; Reynolds 4, Goodwin goals) defeated Sydney Roosters 10 (Burgess 2 tries; Mitchell goal) at Allianz Stadium. Half-time: Rabbitohs 26-0. Crowd: 25,125. Injuries: Adam Reynolds (Rabbitohs â€“ jaw), John Sutton (Rabbitohs â€“ pec).