Storm v Rabbitohs: Five key points
Rabbitohs need a Reynolds solution, Slater v Inglis, Rabbitohs hooker rotation and more. Here are five key points from the Storm's win over Souths in Round 10.
Rabbitohs need a Reynolds solution
South Sydney controlled plenty of possession in Storm territory on Saturday night but lacked that final, creative touch. The Rabbitohs may well have won tonight had Adam Reynolds been there to fill that void but with the star half sidelined for up to five weeks with a thumb injury, Souths need to find a solution quick. That is now four losses from five games, each defeat coming without Reynolds in the side. Luke Keary connected with a high ball to Alex Johnston for the Rabbitohs first try but it was a brief shining moment in a lackluster kicking game for the visitors.
Fullback battle Slater v Inglis
This game was billed as the battle of the fullbacks and for the second year running you would probably have to give the chocolates to the Melbourne custodian. Little separated the two men on the stats sheet with both finishing with a try assist while Billy Slater ran for just four more metres than his counterpart. Slater looked more ominous in possession than Inglis with the Rabbitohs line testy whenever the Storm No.1 was in the vicinity. These two superstars will come together this week in just about full fitness, ready to wreak havoc in a Maroon jersey.
"It doesn't matter what number Greg's got on his back he is a great player and we knew we needed to contain him tonight, every time he got the ball," Slater said post-match.
"I thought he did that quite well but the amount of times Greg gets involved in the game he was always going to be a threat."
What is happening with the Issac Luke hooker situation?
The intriguing saga of Issac Luke continues with the Warriors-bound hooker again resigned to the bench for the start of Saturday night's game. But after just 20 minutes he replaced Cameron McInnes who was instead resigned to the role of bench warmer for the remainder of the game. Luke was hardly a dynamic presence, however his long stint at hooker begs the question of why he was not placed in the starting role to begin with. Coach Michael Maguire offered somewhat of an explanation for the decision to make the permanent change after twenty minutes.
"It was just some changes at the back end, we were looking at getting Cameron back out there but it was just how the game sort of rolled through the back of the half," Maguire said.
"We had one or two go off with concussion so you've sort of got to try and gauge that but they're moments in the games where you've got to make a quick call. Cameron is growing as a player and he is going to be a great one for us."
"He (Luke) performed very well for us, there are areas as a group we will be looking at and continually improving on our game. Issac and I, as I've said many times, we talk about his game all the time. He is looking at areas where he can improve for himself."
Maroons captain on trial by social media?
Well here is your first dose of Origin controversy. The Match Review Committee will be under heavy pressure from those in New South Wales to look into a second half incident involving Maroons skipper Cameron Smith. While attempting to kick out of a David Tyrrell tackle Smith's boots connected with the face of Isaac Luke. While it is clear Smith had no way of seeing Luke while being pinned underneath the Rabbitohs No.10 social media was immediately sent into a frenzy following the incident and that is likely to carry on for the next few days.
"I was only told about it on the way here actually (to the press conference) about what had happened that I'd made contact with Luke," Smith said after the game.
"He didn't mention anything to me in the game or after the game so I don't know what to say there… comments on social are probably from people in NSW I'm not too sure."
His coach followed up in support of his captain.
"At the end of the day players are trying to play the ball quickly, they're trying to move and moving parts of their body," Craig Bellamy said.
"I can't even remember it but it's just an accident, it's not like you go out there and try and kick someone in the head."
Final 15 minutes of first half were pivotal
In a game that had its fair share of sliding door moments the last 15 minutes of the first half proved to be the decisive one. After falling behind 10-2 the Rabbitohs wrestled back momentum and had the Storm pinned in their own territory. Three goal line dropouts and numerous repeat sets later the Bunnies still could not find a way through the purple wall. Then with two-and-a-half minutes to go the Storm sent Will Chambers through to extend the lead to 12 and sent the visitors into the sheds wondering just how that was so.