South Sydney demolished their arch-rivals on a fine surface at ANZ Stadium on Monday night, the home side running in eight tries to four and giving their fans plenty to crow about on the train ride home.
The Roosters’ defence was more porous than Justin Poore in a canoe made of cardboard. Sure they lost a centre and hooker through injury, and their second-rower to the sin bin. But this was a pretty poor effort. They missed 70 tackles and made 11 errors and look worthy wooden-spooners. Very few of them look safe from Brian Smith's broom.
Souths will take plenty from this outing. They did things precisely and at pace, and a coach can't ask for more. A fine team effort from deserving winners of the Ron Coote Cup.
The Game Swung When… In the 15th minute Souths’ five-eighth John Sutton pulled off a one-on-one strip on Roosters centre Ben Jones with the visitors threatening the Rabbitohs' line and the score 8-0 to Souths. Ten minutes later Souths were up 18-nil following tries to Issac Luke and Sutton and the Roosters had to chase like greyhounds after the bunny.
The visitors did score in the 28th minute to go to half-time down by 14 points.
But in the 49th minute, the game-breaking play. Willie Mason was banished to the sin bin for a professional foul and in the ensuing set Sutton put the impressive Eddy Pettybourne over and it was 24-2.
The Roosters hit back with a try, but it was all the Bunnies; they ran in tries in the 65th, 69th and 78th minutes and were all over the Roosters like a green-and-red rash.
Who Was Hot… Jamie Simpson scored a hat-trick and ran with menace down the right wing. Halves Chris Sandow and Sutton had creative games, feeding their men outside well and kicking accurately. When these two guys play well so does this team. Bookend props Luke Stuart (14 runs, 109 metres, 31 tackles) and Roy Asotasi (18 runs, 206 metres, six tackle breaks) both had storming games and laid a great platform for their halves and hookers. Eddy Pettybourne did plenty right, as did Nathan Merritt.
Easts were best served by Mitchell Pearce and Jake Friend (36 tackles) while Anthony Minichiello had a crack in his comeback and Mitchell Aubusson scored a try and moved the ball nicely down the right.
Who Was Not... Whoever convinced the Roosters that Souths were covered in Funnel Web spiders.
Had To Be Seen To Be Believed… A team from the eastern suburbs of Sydney played their nearest neighbour in a derby at a giant stadium in the middle of the city's western suburbs, 14km from Redfern. Eleven thousand people made the trip out. A local ground – say, oh, Redfern Oval? – even with 5,000 fans would have had better atmosphere.
Sia Soliola put a giant hit on Shannan McPherson, the Souths' back-rower running into the Rooster's shoulder and flying off his feet like he'd been shot in the chest with a giant pinball trigger.
Bad Boys… None.
Refs Watch… Jason Robinson and Gerard Sutton had excellent games. Even the one big and potentially contentious decision – the sin-binning of Mason – didn't elicit huge cries of pain from the Roosters nor Mason himself. Nope – good officiating from the men in pink.
Touch judge Russell Turner called Sutton for a forward pass that would have put Simpson in for try number four. It was one of those ones where the momentum of the passer has to be taken into account. Probably right from Turner. He could certainly make a case.
Video ref Russell Smith ruled Minichiello onside after catching a fine Pearce kick that led to a Pearce try. At first look it seemed Minichiello was 10 metres offside. But the replay showed otherwise and Smith got it right.
NRL.com Best & Fairest… 3 points – John Sutton (Rabbitohs): Since a couple of shockers about six weeks ago, Sutton has found a rich vein of form; 2 points – Roy Asotasi (Rabbitohs): A powerhouse in the middle of the park; 1 point – Jamie Simpson (Rabbitohs): A hat-trick of tries and eight tackle breaks from a deceptively quick flank-rider.
Rabbitohs 40 (J Simpson 3, I Luke, J Sutton, E Pettybourne, N Merritt, C Wing tries; C Sandow 4 goals) def Roosters 20 (M Aubusson, S Kenny-Dowall, J Friend, M Pearce tries; S Kenny-Dowall 2 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Crowd: 11,031.