Rabbitohs v Roosters: Five key points
The Roosters continued their unbeaten start to the season with a defence-dominated 20-6 win over local-rivals South Sydney.
The Bondi Wall is back
While their attack was a joy to watch, the real reason the Roosters won three-straight minor premierships was their defence. The Tricolours had the stingiest defence in 2013 (325 points allowed) and 2015 (300), while they were ranked second in 2014 (385). After a sloppy start to the year, Trent Robinson's men have allowed just two tries in their past two matches, and that's despite the Panthers and Rabbitohs having plenty of quality ball in the red zone. Scoring points will never be an issue for the Roosters, so the rest of the competition should watch out if they can keep their defensive line intact.
Tupou's triple effort
The renaissance of Daniel Tupou continued on Thursday night with the Roosters winger adding a new string to his bow with an incredible triple effort in defence in the first half to snuff out an early Rabbitohs attacking raid. Five-eighth Cody Walker broke through the first line of defence and looked set to go all the way, only for Tupou to reel him in with a couple of long strides. Tupou then doubled up with a one-on-one tackle from dummy-half before he jolted the ball free from Tom Burgess's grasp to give his side possession. As he has done all year, the lanky winger was a beast coming out of his own end and was rewarded with a crucial try midway through the second half. Tupou wasn't himself last year, but the former NSW Blues representative is starting to play the sort of footy that made him an international calibre player not so long ago.
Pearce wins the battle of the NSW hopefuls
It might only be Round 4 but that won’t stop people – including us - from talking about State of Origin. There is no hotter debate than who should wear No.7 for the Blues. Mitchell Pearce was the incumbent until last year, with Adam Reynolds replacing him for the first two games before he was ruled out for Game Three with a shoulder injury, opening the door for James Maloney to make the move to halfback. Thursday's showdown between the Roosters and Rabbitohs was about more than just which team would take home the two competition points, with Reynolds and Pearce hoping to impress Blues coach Laurie Daley. Neither player dominated the contest, with the respective five-eighths probably stealing the show. Pearce probably won on a points decision, but both could be gazumped if wunderkind Nathan Cleary continues his incredible start to life as a first-grader.
Another debutant scores on debut
A four-try haul for Norths last week in the Intrust Super Premiership proved too much for Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire to ignore, with the South Sydney mentor handing Sitiveni Moceidreke a well-deserved NRL debut against arch-rivals the Sydney Roosters. The Fijian flyer didn't let 'Madge' down, finishing a nifty set play to get his side on the board in the second half. Given how many players seem to score on debut, it might be worthwhile for coaches to just pick 17 different rookies each week and hope for the best.
Clubs not taking any risks with head knocks
Following on from the heavy fines dished out to the Dragons, Knights and Titans earlier in the week, it came as no surprise to see the Rabbitohs take no risks when Sam Burgess showed signs of concussion late in the first half. The Englishman stayed down after copping the full force of an accidental shoulder to the head and was taken from the field seconds before the half-time siren. Initial reports suggested Burgess would be fit to return, but it wasn't to be as he was ruled out of the contest after failing his HIA test.