Rabbitohs v Knights: Five Key Points
Newcastle Knights took one step forward and several steps back as South Sydney ran riot on a night where Rabbitohs captain Greg Inglis and his team stood tall after scoring seven first-half tries.
Rabbitohs are back on track
Having failed to win back-to-back games since Round 13 of the NRL Telstra Premiership, the Rabbitohs finally looked like the premiership heavyweights we have come to know over the past five seasons in a 52-6 thrashing of the Knights.
A typically coy Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire put it down to his team handling the pressure of the rollercoaster season thus far, despite his team sitting pretty in the top four.
"The game's obviously built a lot around pressure. I thought Adam [Reynolds] and Luke [Keary], the way they're combining together as halves, and obviously having Issac [Luke] come back the way he did is pleasing," Maguire said.
"The forwards are laying a really good platform for them. Our completions were up around 90 per cent, so that allows you to play the game that we did tonight."
Gidley apologises to fans
Labelling it "as bad as it's been" all season, devastated Knights captain Kurt Gidley said even he would find it hard to be a supporter of the club following their 46-point loss.
After winning their first game since Round 10 against the Titans last week, Gidley had hopes to kick on to better things, but those dreams were quickly dashed once the Rabbitohs piled on 36 points in the last 34 minutes of the first half.
"It was hard to look over at the end of the game [at our fans] and thank them because as a supporter I'd be thinking 'what have they dished up today?'," Gidley said.
"It was embarrassing. It's hard to look them in the eye when we play like that in the first half. After the first five minutes we were on the back foot for the next 75, it felt."
Souths' right-edge grows in stature
Scoring five tries between them, Rabbitohs' right-edge Dylan Walker (three tries) and Alex Johnston's (two) combination continues to slowly build to greater heights after both were overlooked for State of Origin debuts this year.
"That's the combination stuff that we've been able to have at training," Maguire said.
"It was probably a month ago where we had half our squad out of training. At the moment we've got most of them out there enjoying what they're doing.
"To have Greg out there leading the way, and obviously not going out for [Origin] camps now, it's allowing us to work out our combinations."
No Mullen, no Knights
After orchestrating Newcastle's second win since Round 5 last weekend, Jarrod Mullen was once again a no show after succumbing to his troublesome toe injury which may rule him out for the rest of the 2015 season.
While he wouldn't have prevented the drubbing the Knights received, it has reached a point – according to coach Rick Stone – where he is chasing players who are hungry enough to play first grade.
"We have six or so rounds to go. We have to play players who are willing to fight," Stone said.
"That's the only thing I'm looking for. Players who are going to stand up, and have some pride in the jumper and fight their butt off for 80 minutes.
"If you can't give me that, then I don't want you playing."
With players like Pat Mata'utia and Nathan Ross begging for an NRL debut as well as fringe players Joe Tapine, Paterika Vaivai and Carlos Tuimavave waiting for a recall, Stone does have options to draw from.
Inglis hitting his stride
Scoring a hattrick, breaking five tackles, producing a try assist and two line break assists, Greg Inglis arguably strung two good performances together for the first time this season.
Looking like a new man since winning the State of Origin series with Queensland, Inglis's form of late is spelling bad news for opposition clubs on the road to the finals.
"Greg has a lot of energy at the moment, which is a great thing. I think that's created off all the boys just enjoying what they're doing. They're enjoying their training," Maguire said.
"We know we've got to continually persist at improving what we're doing. We've got the combinations that are being able to be settled at training now."