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The Rabbitohs and Roosters meet at the SCG.

So who was under more pressure on Friday night, Wayne Bennett or Trent Robinson?

It's hard to imagine Bennett doing a fist pump or high-fiving anybody at the back of the SCG stands after the 26-16 win, but he deserved it.

South Sydney fans in many respects are like Broncos fans - but with more caffeine. They loved former coach Anthony Seibold because in the season he took the Rabbitohs from 12th to third – or more succinctly within 80 minutes of another grand final.

There was a fear Rabbitohs fans would turn rabid (and quickly) if they felt their side was going backwards. A loss by Bennett, even in round one, could lead to a few people turning up at Redfern Oval with voodoo dolls and pins.

Then there's Robinson – a crafty customer who would have made sure in his pre-game pep talk that his players knew it was Cooper Cronk's 350th.

Match Highlights: Roosters v Rabbitohs

They would also have been well aware the SCG was their new home and the fans deserved a decent house-warming party. Add to that the wish to hand Bennett deserved a welcome to the century-old feud.

Reminders of all the tradition and history of the SCG were probably mentioned. But Robinson would have been firm in telling his players that while 2018 was now a memory, punters would still expect premiership-standard play from their team.

Souths' roster had barely moved in the off-season; the Roosters added rep players Brett Morris and Angus Crichton.

Our job is to prepare the players well .. I'm very happy with the way we prepared

Roosters coach Trent Robinson

"Wayne by far," said former Manly head coach Geoff Toovey when asked on whose shoulders the weight was heaviest.

"Because he was at a new club and all the drama the swapping of coaches. Anthony Seibold had a successful year with Souths last season so many would be remembering that. So all the pressure was on Wayne.

"The Roosters had been away and won the World Club Challenge. They started slowly last year [won three of their first six] and then began to build."

After the Roosters 2013 premiership, Robinson's men lost four of their first six matches in 2014.

Robinson bristled at the "hangover" question after Friday night's loss.

"That's up to the opinion pieces ... write whatever you like. Our job is to prepare the players well for the season. I'm very happy with the way we prepared. We got outworked tonight," he said.

Toovey knows a thing or three about pressure – taking over the 2011 premiership-winning team at Manly for round one in 2012 after Des Hasler and the Sea Eagles administration fractured.

Last-gasp effort from Burgess saves try

"I actually didn't feel that at all. There was so much turmoil in the off-season after the [grand final] win, not from the player roster but behind the scenes, that no-one expected too much early," Toovey said.

"From now on though the Roosters will start to feel it."

Another former head coach, Neil Henry, understood a little of what Bennett might have experienced. "King" moved from Canberra to the Cowboys to the Titans. All three clubs expected much from Henry.

"So your very first game is important but on Friday, both coaches would have wanted that win," Henry told "I can't split who felt it [expectation] more.

"You just want to start the year well and get that win in the first round. You lose your first, and then lose the second round and all of a sudden the pressure is really on."

Henry said coaches didn't feel intimidated coming up against Bennett.

"As a coach, you don't think personally who you're up against in the other coach. You work at your plan to get the best out of your players.

“But with Wayne he has got the Rabbitohs look really relaxed and enjoying their footy. Mostly his teams have a lot of effort in what they do – they work hard for each other and you saw that Friday night. Wayne is able to get that effort out of them."

Storm stand up for women

Storm coach Craig Bellamy wore a white band around his left arm for the match against the Broncos.

He was not the only one. All of Storm's football staff and the 17 players on the field wore the white tape.

It was for 31-year-old Storm member Tamara Farrell - the Ballarat woman died on February 17 this year as the result of an alleged domestic violence incident.

Her charred remains were found dumped alongside a country road 300km from her home. A 22-year-old man has been charged with murder.

Melbourne Storm invited her family to the season opener at AAMI Park on Thursday and wore the bands in her honour. White, rather than black, symbolised the campaign to stop violence against women.

"She was a staunch Storm supporter. She loved our team so when something happens like this, the club has a chance to show its appreciation and stand up for the victim and her family," Bellamy told

"It affected all of us because we've all got mothers, or wives and daughters, granddaughters and grandmothers. So it touched everyone at our club."

Consult the White Ribbon Australia website and look at the statistics. These are not random figures plucked from the air to make a point.

On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner. That comes from the National Homicide Monitoring Program report by the Australian Institute of Criminology in Canberra, covering the years 2012-2014.

The report was released in 2017.


Domestic violence hotline - 1800 737 732
Lifeline - 13 11 14

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