The South Sydney Rabbitohs have stamped their premiership credentials with a commanding 30-10 win over the New Zealand Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.
With the Burgess brothers running rampant and captain Greg Inglis tuning up for Origin with a powerhouse display, the Rabbitohs ran in five tries to two.
The signs were good early for the Warriors, who scored through Agnatius Paasi in the fifth minute on the back of a glut of possession.
When Thomas Burgess was sent to the sin bin in the ninth minute for repeated South Sydney infringements the Warriors had the ideal opportunity to stretch their lead.
Instead it was the Rabbitohs who lifted, scoring tries through George Burgess and Robert Jennings, who finished off brilliant lead-up work by John Sutton, Cody Walker and Inglis.
Jennings finishes off slick Souths move
Inglis grabbed a try of his own in the 30th minute courtesy of a great flick pass by Angus Crichton and the Rabbitohs were out to 16-6.
Perhaps summing up the Warriors' night, Isaac Luke put the kick off out on the full and the visitors capitalised when Thomas Burgess left Bunty Afoa and Simon Mannering in his wake to score.
If the Warriors were to mount a comeback they needed to be first to score after the break but it was the Rabbitohs who went further ahead through veteran back-rower John Sutton.
Now in his 15th season at Redfern and playing some of the best footy of his career, Sutton made the Warriors' defence look second rate as the score ballooned out to 28-6.
Sutton almost made it a double in the 63rd minute when he grubbered the ball through but knocked on while trying to regather the ball just short of the line. Tohu Harris was ruled to have impeded Sutton on the chase and was sent to the sin bin. Reynolds landed the penalty goal to take the Rabbitohs out to 30-6.
A late try to Solomone Kata was little consolation for Stephen Kearney's men who have now lost four of their past seven after starting the year 5-0.
Match: Warriors v Rabbitohs
Round 12 -
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
In stark contrast to South Sydney's slick attack, the Warriors lacked direction with Shaun Johnson and Mason Lino both missing. The move of Peta Hiku to No.6 to partner Blake Green in the halves came up well short as poor last-tackle options cruelled any chance of a Warriors revival.
To make matters worse for the home side, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck left the field late in the match with what appeared to be an ankle injury.
Blues Origin hopeful Damien Cook and young winger Campbell Graham were also in fine form as the Rabbitohs made it four wins on the trot to leapfrog the Warriors and Panthers into second place on the ladder ahead of Penrith's blockbuster showdown with St George Illawarra.
News and Notes: The Rabbitohs have now won seven of their past eight games against the Warriors …Agnatius Paasi and Thomas Burgess both bagged their first try for the season… Thomas Burgess was sent to the sin bin in the ninth minute and was placed on report for tripping Solomone Kata in the 25th minute…Next week: Rabbitohs play Sharks at ANZ Stadium while the Warriors have a bye.