|Match Date||29th Mar, 2013|
|Venue||Homebush (ANZ Stadium)|
South Sydney players credited the shock dumping of skipper Michael Crocker for a clinical 17-12 defeat of Canterbury that has given the Rabbitohs their best start to a season since the club’s latest premiership in 1971.
Watched by a record NRL regular season crowd of 51,686, which included Souths co-owner Russell Crowe, the Rabbitohs made a statement about their premiership intentions as they extended their unbeaten run to four matches.
But they did so without Crocker, who was sensationally demoted to 18th man by Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire, in a move to shake up his team after defensive lapses in its past two wins over Cronulla and Penrith.
‘‘Michael understands that it is all about our performances each week,’’ Maguire said. ‘‘I have got a great squad and they judge themselves on how they are playing.
‘‘I am sure he was upset because he has a lot of pride about his selection but he completely understands and he has been very professional about his training and everything he has done this week.’’
After dropping former skipper Roy Asotasi the week before, Souths players said the coach had left them in no doubt about what he expected each week.
‘‘After last week we wanted to come out and put in an 80-minute performance and our talk was unbelievable out there tonight,’’ stand-in skipper John Sutton said.
Asotasi revealed that Maguire had challenged each player to lift their performance and said they all knew he wouldn’t be afraid to axe anyone. ‘‘[He] is trying to change the culture here at the club and it is like everyone’s job isn’t safe, so you have got to work hard during the week, and if you are not performing Madge will probably find someone who will do the job,’’ Asotasi said.
‘‘For us it is a good thing – it keeps us on our toes and keeps us working all the time.’’
After a frantic first half in which each side made only one handling error and defended superbly, the Rabbitohs stepped up the pace in the second half and Canterbury struggled to stay with them.
Undoubtedly, the Bulldogs missed their own skipper Michael Ennis, who was forced from the field with concussion five minutes before half-time after a tackle gone wrong on Asotasi.
With Ennis topping Canterbury’s first-half tackle count (23), it was probably no coincidence that George Burgess pushed off Tony Williams and Dave Klemmer to win a battle of the giants and score while Ennis was down in back play. Nathan Merritt put the Rabbitohs ahead for the first time in the match when he crossed for his 144th career try to join Benny Wearing as the 10th-highest tryscorer in premiership history.
Merritt achieved the feat in the 56th minute off a perfectly weighted Adam Reynolds kick, and Bryson Goodwin sealed the win when he scored 14 minutes later.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
|Josh Reynolds||Five Eighth||0||0||0||0|
|Kris Keating||Half Back||0||0||0||0|
|Josh Jackson||Second Row||0||0||0||0|
|Tony Williams||Second Row||0||0||0||0|
|Martin Taupau||Front Row||0||0||0||0|
|Aiden Tolman||Front Row||0||0||0||0|