Inglis inspires Souths to NRL’s top four
Greg Inglis inspired South Sydney with the try-saving play of the season as the Rabbitohs secured an all-important top four NRL berth with an 18-6 victory over Newcastle at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.
Running into a menacing breeze in the second half, Souths were clinging to a 12-6 lead with the Knights surging, when Inglis showed why he could be the most influential player in the upcoming final series, by going head-to-head with a rampaging Akuila Uate on his own goal-line and coming up with possession for his team.
The Rabbitohs fed-off their superstar’s unbelievable effort in the 46th minute, and 15 minutes later put three consecutive sets together on Newcastle’s line before five-eighth John Sutton crashed over to put a crucial 12-point gap between the two teams.
Souths were gritty and determined which will hold them in good stead for next week’s finals, as Newcastle naturally enjoyed the majority of second half field position with the howling wind at their backs.
The Rabbitohs are now likely to face Melbourne in the first week of playoffs action, which will give them a genuine chance of earning a week off and a home preliminary final at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
If things don’t go as expected in other matches this weekend, Souths would face Canterbury in a week one blockbuster at Homebush.
Inglis, along with the resurrected Roy Asotasi, scored the two first-half tries for South Sydney, but it was the No.1′s defence on Uate that was most definitive.
Uate raced 30 metres down the left-hand touch-line and attempted his big right-foot step which against any other fullback would have meant he scored under the posts.
But in one of the most spectacular try-saving tackles you’ll see, Inglis met the Fijian flyer head-on right on his own goal-line, stopping him in his tracks.
Uate showed great awareness to then reach out for the line with his right arm, but Inglis saw what was happening and raked the ball out.
To put the icing on the cake, he leapt out of the field of play, knocked the loose ball back to teammates – and with that sequence of individual brilliance, the Rabbitohs were on their way to victory.
Newcastle fullback Darius Boyd was awarded a controversial benefit of the doubt try despite an apparent double movement in the first half, which gave the home side hope on Old Boys’ Day at Hunter Stadium, where the club honours past players.
Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire described Inglis’s tackle as one of the best he’s ever seen.
“Unbelievable. Greggy is able to do those things for his team over and over again and the excitement he has playing for this team and playing for his teammates is the most pleasing thing about Greggy at the moment,” Maguire said.
“He puts his body on the line and so does the team, they did that tonight with everything that was thrown at them.”
Captain Michael Crocker agreed: “To stop Aku like that, not many people could have done that.”
Maguire said the defence-orientated win was the perfect preparation for finals football.
“What was thrown at us and how hard the boys worked for each other, that’s how you’ve got to play over these next few weeks and it’s really pleasing to get that hit-out,” he said.
Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett and captain Danny Buderus were also praiseworthy of Inglis’ tackle – and both said Souths could be a dark horse in the NRL finals.
Bennett was pleased with the tenacity of his team but said the Knights had plenty to work on in the off-season after they fell two wins short of the top eight.
“We’re just a little bit off the pace compared to the top teams and they didn’t try any harder than us tonight, they weren’t any more committed than we were, they just did things a little bit better than we did,” Bennett said.
“That’s the difference, but we’re bridging the gap and we’ll get it right.”© AAP 2013