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South Sydney's premiership aspirations have exploded into life on the back of a three-quarter line of youthful speedsters who repeatedly had their way with the Knights in racking up a massive 50-10 win at Barlow Park in Cairns.

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Despite going into the clash without Sam Burgess, captain John Sutton and suspended Origin representative Ben Te'o, the Rabbitohs' backs scored eight of their team's 10 tries to set up a tantalising showdown with competition front-runners Manly Warringah at the Sydney Cricket Ground next Friday night.

While the most rigorous activity rugby-bound Burgess put his injured right shoulder through was the signing of a multitude of autographs for the appreciative North Queensland crowd, names such as Reynolds, Keary, Walker, Johnston and Auva'a showed that there is now a potency out wide that critics suggested had been responsible for their finals fade-outs in the past two seasons.

A crowd of 11,570 predominantly parochial South Sydney fans were treated to a somewhat muted start by both teams before Kirisome Auva'a broke the deadlock in the 13th minute and then the Rabbitohs piled on three tries in a 10-minute period to take a 26-0 lead into the break.

With a gusty tropical breeze at their backs, the Rabbitohs took full advantage of a dominant kicking display by Adam Reynolds in the opening stanza as he kicked his third 40/20 of the season in the 37th minute, paving the way for Chris McQueen to score in his return from injury to the top grade.

The Rabbitohs got their first opportunity in Knights territory on the back of a penalty in the 13th minute and a couple of tackles later a sweeping play to the left culminated in Auva'a bursting through an attempted tackle by Dane Gagai and Chanel Mata'utia, fending off Tyrone Roberts and beating the cover defending tackle of Sione Mata'utia to score in the corner.

As the Knights continually struggled to work their way out of their own half with just 41 per cent of possession, Issac Luke sparked a smart blind-side play in the 21st minute after the Newcastle clearing kick failed to make it into enemy territory.

Luke toyed with the retreating Knights markers before finding Joe Picker in support, who showed good hands to quickly pass to Dylan Walker who threw an overhead pass to an unmarked Lote Tuqiri who powered over the attempt of Kurt Gidley to score.

Alex Johnston brought the crowd to their feet with a searching run in the 24th minute from a kick return and four minutes late on the back of another penalty and long kick from Adam Reynolds. Thomas Burgess was controversially awarded a try by referee Adam Devcich that on replay suggested he had lost control in reaching out under the posts.

But there was no consultation with the video referees and Reynolds landed his first successful conversion of the afternoon to give the Bunnies a handy 14-0 advantage.

If that try was controversial the next in the 33rd minute was downright spectacular. Reynolds chanced his hand with a chip over the Knights defence from 20 metres out with the mistrustful Steeden evading everyone but the boot of McQueen. His instinctive lunge with his leg saw the ball cannon out to the right and into the arms of Dylan Walker 10m out from the tryline and with his raw speed cut back on the angle to weave his way under the posts untouched.

McQueen scored the final try of the half running a nice line off a Luke Keary pass and then had a hand in the first of the second half when he again ran off a Keary short ball before finding captain Greg Inglis in support to extend the lead to 32 points three minutes into the second half.

And if Souths weren't making life hard enough for the Novocastrians even Mother Nature deserted them in their 40 minutes of need, the strong breeze dropping to a whisper if not completely changing direction upon the resumption.

The Knights finally managed to exert some pressure by earning a repeat set eight minutes into the second half and one of Newcastle's bright young things made them pay with Jake Mamo crossing acrobatically in the corner to get his side off the dreaded duck.

Walker then committed the cardinal sin of failing to find the playing field with the restart and the Knights went back-to-back when the video referee over-ruled a 'no try' ruling against replacement hooker Adam Clydsdale after a dart from dummy-half.

Newcastle's time to shine however proved to be short-lived when an error coming out of their end handed the Rabbitohs an opportunity to hit back, one they gladly took  courtesy of quick hands and the lightning-fast feet of Johnston who crossed for his 12th try in 10 first grade games.

Twelve became 14 in the space of 10 minutes when Auva'a picked up the scraps from a Beau Scott dropped ball and sent Johnston on an unimpeded 70m run to the tryline and then the 19-year-old was on the end of a well-worked backline set play from a scrum that pushed the Bunnies to within reach of the half century mark with eight minutes still to play.

Auva'a was the one to have the honour of bringing up 50 when Walker carved his way through the middle of the Knights defence from his own side of halfway before putting a kick into the corner for the 22-year-old to get his sixth of the season.

South Sydney Rabbitohs 50 (Alex Johnston 3, Kirisome Auva'a 2, Lote Tuqiri, Thomas Burgess, Dylan Walker, Chris McQueen, Greg Inglis tries; Adam Reynolds 5 goals) def. Newcastle Knights 10 (Jake Mamo, Adam Clydsdale tries; Kurt Gidley goal). Crowd: 11,570. Half-time: Rabbitohs 26-0.
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