Youth sparks Rabbitohs revival
South Sydney coach Michael Maguire believes it was some of the youngest Rabbitohs in his line-up that helped spark the side's 36-20 win over the Titans in veteran John Sutton's 300th club game at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.
Headlined by a barnstorming hat-trick to back-rower Angus Crichton on the right edge, fellow young forwards Tyrell Fuimaono and Zane Musgrove also produced a high work rate in the 16-point win.
Crichton was unsurprisingly the man of the moment after producing one of the best individual performances by a forward of the season with three tries, four line-breaks and over 200 metres recorded.
"The first couple of years he's had quite a number of injuries but I've always seen signs he was going to develop into a great player," Maguire said of Crichton.
"The fact he missed two years with injury he probably missed learning the game but he's spent some time with our senior guys and talks to them about footy.
"He's got a thirst to learn the game, which is one of his biggest strengths.
"He was outstanding and I thought Zane and Tyrell really stood up too. They're very hungry young men and are displaying it out there."
With Sutton joking about his own age earlier in the week as he approached the club milestone, he was buoyed by what Crichton was producing in 2017 and recalled when the 21-year-old came into the senior squad at Redfern.
"When he first came in he was raw and had the strength but didn't know how to use it," Sutton said.
"At training he would go 100 miles an hour and get tired real quick but he's developing rapidly.
"He would be steaming, or in defence just smashing people in defence and blow himself out early, but once he got some technique in – he's killing it.
"His runs are powerful and defence is solid – I'm proud of how he's going."
Meanwhile, Maguire was far from impressed with the opening 40 minutes from the Bunnies but had confidence they could fight back after trailing Gold Coast 20-10 at the break.
The Rabbitohs coach revealed it was Sutton who spoke to the players in the sheds at half-time with the hosts later responding with five-unanswered tries.
It was a much-needed win for the Rabbitohs who kept themselves within reach of pushing for a late charge towards the finals on the back of a guaranteed two points heading into their second bye next week.
"Credit to John… he spoke to the players and what this club was about and what we expect out on the field," Maguire said.
"The first 20 minutes is something I didn't expect and I'm sure the players didn't either but we spoke at half-time and went out there and defended the way we're capable of and found a way to win.
"I always believe in the team and how they go about things but the first 20 minutes was definitely not our side, but they were able to dig themselves out of it."
Maguire also confirmed skipper Sam Burgess will be available for the side's Round 17 clash with the Penrith Panthers in a fortnight after the English international was a late withdrawal on Friday night due to a glute strain.