Rabbitohs v Warriors: Five key points
Alex Johnston scored a hat-trick to guide the Rabbitohs to a comfortable 36-18 win over a Warriors side who could be without Kieran Foran for the rest of the year after the star playmaker injured his back on Friday night.
Will Foran return?
Kieran Foran may have played his last game for the Warriors after the Bulldogs-bound five-eighth limped off late with what appears to be a back injury.
It's been a frustrating year for the representative playmaker with Foran limited to just 16 appearances due to hamstring and shoulder concerns.
With two rounds to go, and Foran set to link up with the Bulldogs in 2018, the chances of him playing again for the Warriors appear slim.
"Back, among other things," replied Warriors coach Stephen Kearney when asked about the injury.
"It's been a tough year for him; if it's not one thing it's another. It has been a challenge for him in that sense and that's had a bit of an impact on the team."
Johnston's hot streak rolls on
Rabbitohs fullback Alex Johnston looks set to finish the regular season as the competition's leading try-scorer after the South Sydney fullback raced in a hat-trick to take his tally to 22 for the season.
It's been an incredible second half of the season given he only managed four tries in the first nine rounds, with Johnston's treble taking his tally to 17 tries from his past seven matches at ANZ Stadium.
"He's a player that's really improved as a fullback at the backend of the season," Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire said after the game.
Warriors' inexperience begins to show
They were easily the better side for the opening 50 minutes, but in the end the Warriors' resistance faded as they fell to their seventh loss on the trot to further sour what's been a difficult year on the field.
Skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck showed glimpses of his best with a try in each half but that's where the joy ended as the Rabbitohs ran in 24-unanswered points to claim the win.
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney said there were positive signs in his side's performance but conceded some of his younger players couldn't match it with their more experienced rivals when the going got tough.
"We just have some individuals that aren't quite ready. That's the reality of where we're at," he said.
"It's certainly no excuse, but we've got a number of troops down at the minute and we've got some fellas who aren't quite ready for the NRL, to be honest.
"There was some real effort out there and there were some individuals who were busting their clackers out there, but it's been a little bit the same the last couple of weeks and that's where we're at as a footy team at the minute. It's pretty challenging, there's no doubt about that, but we've got to keep forging our way forward."
Burgess a chance to return
When Sam Burgess's name was nowhere to be seen on South Sydney's updated team list on Thursday night, the Fantasy world went into crisis mode as coaches debated whether to keep him or cut him loose.
For the astute few who kept him, it looks as though he could return for next week's game against the Storm so long as he can get through the pain of the rib injury that has troubled him for the past few weeks.
"Sam was busting to play tonight and I basically had to say 'No you're not playing'," Maguire revealed.
"We'll just have to wait and see. He's on the mend so we'll have to see what happens throughout the week."
Lillyman's 250th cruelled by injury
It was meant to be a night to remember but Jacob Lillyman's 250th NRL match was cut short with the veteran front-rower forced from the field late in the first half with a suspected torn biceps.
It was a cruel blow for Lillyman and the Warriors who went into the game with two playmakers on the bench and just one recognised big man.
"I think it's a torn biceps," Kearney said.
"When you lose your front-rower like Jacob, we only had Sammy (Sam Lisone) and a couple of young guys on the bench so it made it pretty tough for us."