Warriors v Rabbitohs: Five key points
The Rabbitohs picked up their first win in 10 games on Saturday, disposing of the Warriors 41-22 in a clinical display which saw them score five first-half tries. Here are the key points from the Round 23 NRL Telstra Premiership match at Mt Smart Stadium.
Rabbitohs forwards fire
South Sydney went into Round 23 having run for the second-fewest metres in the NRL Telstra Premiership, ahead of only last-placed Newcastle in that category.
It had been a leading reason for some of their struggles this season, but in Auckland the Bunnies took it to the representative-laden Warriors pack and came out on top, running for almost 200 metres more than their opponents.
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden saw it as a crucial reason why his side were unable to get close to South Sydney from the 20th minute onwards.
"I think they clearly won the physical battle, their big forwards did a really good job and we were just a little bit off there," McFadden said.
The Burgess brothers were the standouts for Souths, with Sam running for 195 metres at lock, and Thomas (136 metres) and George (124 metres) adding plenty in the front row.
Captain Greg Inglis said it was numbers like those which allowed halves Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker to run riot at times.
"We spoke during the week about [the fact] that we had to back up last week’s performance, and our big boppers up front certainly did that to allow the likes of Cody [Walker] and ‘Renno’ (Reynolds) to steer us around the park," Inglis said.
Outside backs guilty of lacking desperation
The Rabbitohs found joy all night with their kicking game in behind the Warriors’ line, scoring three times off similar plays.
While the Rabbitohs were very good in that area, the Warriors were fairly poor in the way they handled it.
McFadden didn’t hold back following the loss, calling out his side for their failure to defuse threats off the boot.
"They (Souths) had a good plan to kick in behind us, and even though we knew that was coming we just lacked that desperation to get to the ball first," McFadden said.
"A bit of both I think (good play from Souths and poor play from the Warriors), we knew that [tactic] was coming to be honest with you, and so I thought our reaction to it was average."
Reynolds’ stint short but very sweet
NSW Origin halfback Adam Reynolds managed only 46 minutes before being taken from the field as a precaution following a hamstring strain.
But that was all he needed to clock up stats which would be the envy of many NRL playmakers.
Three try assists, along with a field goal and five conversions from six attempts capped off a strong game for Reynolds.
In his time on the field he also scored a provisional 46 NRL Fantasy points.
"[We] built a lot of pressure and obviously the forward pack laid a good platform, and when you have got the opposition going backwards it allows Adam’s game to really enhance like it did," South Sydney coach Michael Maguire said.
"He was excellent there, I thought he really steered the team around along with Cody.
"When the fullback is out of position Adam steps up and gets the opportunities."
Maguire said initial signs suggested Reynolds’ injury is not serious.
Warriors surprising, but Souths as expected
Despite the Warriors going into the match as heavy favourites, McFadden said South Sydney’s performance came as no shock to him or his team.
The 19-point win for the visiting side was one of their better performances in a disappointing season, while the Warriors’ poor showing appeared out of the blue, after a nine-game streak where they were undefeated in regular time.
"I certainly saw their performance coming, I don’t think I saw our performance coming," McFadden said.
"It was a bit of a setback for us tonight, but we need to move forward pretty quickly."
Those thoughts were echoed by Inglis in the post-match press conference.
"Without a doubt this performance has been there, it’s just trying to find it," Inglis said.
Sing when you’re winning
In a competition as tough as the NRL it can sometimes be the smallest things which bring the greatest harmony to the team environment.
That was the case for Maguire post-match, who gushed over hearing the Bunnies’ team song for the first time since Round 11, as his side ended a nine-game losing streak.
"To see the boys come off and perform like that, and to sing the song makes you really appreciate how special the team song is," Maguire said.
"To sit back and watch your players sing and enjoy that [is special]."
Despite sitting closer to the bottom of the table than the middle, and with no hope of playing post-season footy, South Sydney played the type of football which the top teams would be proud of.
An 88 per cent completion rate was the standout stat, while the Rabbitohs also crossed for six tries against a side who in the nine games prior to Round 23 had leaked more than 20 points only once.