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The Rabbitohs ensured favourite son Cody Walker celebrated his 150th game in style with a 40-22 win over a 12-man Sea Eagles outfit at Central Coast Stadium on Friday night.

Walker scored a try and laid on two others in his milestone match as the Rabbitohs overpowered a Manly side that battled bravely after Karl Lawton was sent off in the ninth minute.

Lawton lifted Souths skipper Cameron Murray above the horizonal and into a dangerous position and seemed resigned to his fate as he walked towards referee Grant Atkins to learn his fate.

The Rabbitohs opted to take the penalty goal for a 2-0 lead but it was the 12-man Sea Eagles who grabbed the game's opening try through Kieran Foran.

Midway through the half Manly had a second when Jason Saab pulled down a Daly Cherry-Evans bomb and got the ball down inches inside the touchline in the right corner.

The Rabbitohs hit back in the 28th minute when Kaeon Koloamatangi took a short ball from Siliva Havili and plunged over from close range to make it 10-8.

Lawton sent off

With seven minutes remaining in the half the Rabbitohs took the lead when a sweeping left side move was finished off by winger Alex Johnston.

Cherry-Evans then launched his third 40-20 kick of the season and the Sea Eagles capitalised on the field position with a try to Christian Tuipulotu after brilliant lead-up by Foran and Josh Schuster.

Just as the undermanned Manly looked like taking a lead into the sheds a mistake by Martin Taupau gave Souths a late chance and they grabbed it with a try to Isaiah Tass. The conversion by Blake Taaffe made it 18-16 to the Rabbitohs.

Burgess barges over

Thomas Burgess then produced a barnstorming try from close range seven minutes into the second half and the Rabbitohs had some breathing space at 24-16.

An emotional moment for Walker in the 51st minute when he scooped up an offload from Tass and crossed for a try to make it 30-16 but Manly refused to lie down and a penalty try to Cherry-Evans made the score 30-22.

Cherry-Evans was leading the race for a ball in the in-goal but was impeded by Damien Cook and the interference stopped the Manly skipper from scoring.

A try to Murray in the 71st minute and another to Taaffe in the dying seconds put the icing on the Rabbitohs' fourth win of the season.

The Sea Eagles find themselves at 4-4 after eight rounds and will be sweating on the match review committe's findings on the Lawton tackle and the fitness of centre Brad Parker (knee).

Match snapshot

  • Karl Lawton became the first Manly player to be sent off since Addin Fonua-Blake was marched for abusing a referee in round eight, 2020.
  • Alex Johnston needs just five tries to become the greatest tryscorer in South Sydney history. Nathan Merritt sits atop the list with 146 tries from Benny Wearing on 144 and Johnston 142.
  • Daly Cherry-Evans is the all-time leader for 40-20 kicks with 33, well clear of Cooper Cronk in second place with 21.
  • Thomas Burgess led the way for the Bunnies up front with 186 metres from 16 runs, six tackle breaks and a runaway try that evoked memories of twin brother George's classic solo effort in the 2014 grand final.
  • The Rabbitohs have won their last six games in a row against Manly.
  • Lachlan llias continues to develop in the Souths No.7 jersey, running for 146 metres and coming up with a line break and two tackle breaks.
  • Lachlan Croker and Jake Trbojevic toiled manfully in defence for the 12-man Sea Eagles making 85 tackles between them.

Play of the Game

A magic moment for one of South Sydney's favourite sons Cody Walker in career game No.150 when he crossed wide out and looked to the heavens in a tribute to his mum Linda who passed away in 2018. The try was laid on by young centre Isaiah Tass, who took the ball to the line and held off three Manly defenders to get an offload to Walker who put on the afterburners to run in the 72nd try of his career. 

Walker scores from Tass offload

What They Said

"He's devastated, the poor kid. He's such a hard worker, he plays the game at pace, and he has a nice temperament so there was certainly no malice in the tackle but there will probably be some consequences to face on that tackle. Would you send him or would you sin bin him? I thought maybe a decision could have been disputed there but either way he wasn't going to stay on the field and we'll leave the judiciary to decide on that one." - Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler on Karl Lawton

Sea Eagles: Round 8

"I'm pretty proud of the month we've had, winning three of our last four and losing the other one by a field goal. I thought with the footy we looked sharp, we looked dangerous, Cody's getting better every week. But I thought defensively we invited them back into the game. Daly [Cherry-Evans] kicked really well, he's one of the best halfbacks in the game for a reason. I think the weekend off and freshen up will be a good thing for us." - Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou 

Rabbitohs: Round 8

What's Next

The Rabbitohs welcome the Broncos to Accor Stadium on Thursday night to kick off round nine. Taane Milne will return from suspension and Hame Sele should also be available after concussion protocols ruled him out tonight.

The Sea Eagles are at home at 4 Pines Park for a clash with the vastly improved Wests Tigers. Superstar fullback Tom Trbojevic is a chance of returning from his knee injury but Karl Lawton seems certain to be suspended and Brad Parker has a knee injury.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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