Oates inspires Brisbane to win over South Sydney
A bulked-up Brisbane has beaten the Rabbitohs with their own power game of yesteryear, with hulking winger/wannabe backrower Corey Oates leading the charge in a thrilling 24-20 win.
Oates instigated a second-half blitz of the Bunnies with a power-packed 57th minute try which turned the contest, smashing through four defenders en route to the line.
That charge from the 105kg, 192 cm flyer capped a brutal showing from Oates, whose three line breaks, eight tackle busts and 188 metres showed exactly why Wayne Bennett is reluctant to shift such a hard-to-handle customer from his left flank.
In-field the story came courtesy of even bigger bodies.
Eighteen-year-old, 118kg, 194 cm Payne Haas turned plenty of heads in an eye-catching 21-minute debut that coincided with Brisbane's best football, while Tevita Pangai Jr's 123 metres and 28 tackles took up the gauntlet thrown down by the Burgess twins.
The Broncos bruising second-half performance kept a late Souths fightback at bay, while the officials were saved their blushes as John Sutton crossed from a blatantly forward Cody Walker pass to set up a grandstand finish.
Match: Rabbitohs vs Broncos
Venue: ANZ Stadium
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It all started with Adam Reynolds sending a scare through the Rabbitohs camp by going down early with an ankle issue.
But by the seventh minute he was back on his feet with their first points on a platter, thanks to an eye-watering fumble from Jack Bird in his in-goal.
Bird butchered a regulation defusal of a Reynolds grubber, only managing to bat it into the path of an obliging Cody Walker for an early 6-0 lead.
While the Burgess brothers bulldozed through the middle across the opening stages, Brisbane took the long way round with their first meaningful foray after 18 minutes.
It was worth the wait, with Anthony Milford running on the last and five more passes keeping Brisbane alive before Darius Boyd dived on a grubber to get them on the board and complete the 60-metre movement.
Immediately though the Rabbitohs hit back with rapid hands of their own sending Alex Johnston over, a Greg Inglis wrap-around play creating more than enough space for his fleet-footed protégé.
12-6 it stayed as the Broncos one raid to come off – a Korbin Sims offload sending Kodi Nikorima to the line – was denied by the bunker, Johnston somehow keeping the ball from hitting the turf.
Eight errors brought Brisbane unstuck in the first 40, but three repeat sets to start the second had them level by the 47th minute.
The sight of makeshift hooker Josh McGuire limping off with a sprained ankle didn't worry Nikorima, as he scurried between Reynolds and Walker from dummy-half.
A penalty goal in quick time put Souths up 14-12 but with Haas and Pangai Jr. throwing several sinks and their sizeable frames at anything in red and green, the tide eventually turned.
It was Oates who broke the Bunnies, collecting a Tom Opacic offload and charging 20-metres behind the ruck for the critical four-pointer.
At the 62nd minute Brisbane came knocking again, Oates, Haas and Nikorima drilling Richie Kennar back into his in-goal.
By the 63rd James Roberts was touching down on another Milford grubber for a 10-point margin.
Sutton's try trimmed that back with five minutes remaining, but the Broncos held on while Souths tried every last trick to the final whistle.