There is a surprise or two in every NRL season, and 2019 will surely be no different.
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Souths have consolidated their top eight spot, scoring seven tries to four to beat Canberra 42-22 at Central Coast Stadium.
It was a dominant performance by the Rabbitohs, their only concern will be that both Sam and Tom Burgess were placed on report for high shots.
Today was Sam Burgess’ first match back from a two-week suspension, and he’ll have to prepare himself for more time off after a high shot on Raiders’ halfback Aidan Sezer in the second half. That was the only blot on an otherwise strong performance from him.
The Rabbitohs scored three tries in the first fifteen minutes of the match, exploiting some fairly soft Raiders’ defence on the left edge.
The first was scored in the third minute by fullback Alex Johnston after he used his pace to slice through a staggered Raiders’ defensive line.
Cody Walker was in four minutes later after taking on Siliva Havili and Blake Austin close to the line.
In the 15th minute, winger Robert Jennings scored out wide after a good Rabbitohs’ set play on the left edge.
Trailing 18-0, the Raiders hit back in the 24th minute when Nick Cotric showed his finishing ability to score in the corner after Souths’ winger Richard Kennar came in off his wing.
But in the 30th minute, Greg Inglis intercepted an Aidan Sezer pass and ran 70 metres to score near the posts.
Reynolds’ conversion made it 24-6.
The Raiders were desperate to score before half-time, and Whitehead planted the ball over the line in the 39th minute after a good offload by Jack Wighton.
That try gave Raiders’ fans some hope, but a professional foul by Jarrod Croker in the eighth minute of the second half proved costly. He was sin-binned and Souths ran in two tries while the Raiders were down to 12 men. That put the game out of Canberra’s reach.
Winger Richard Kennar scored untouched for the first of those two tries after being on the end of a good offload from Dane Gagai, and two minutes later fellow winger Robert Jennings crossed after Greg Inglis batted back a last tackle Adam Reynolds bomb.
The Rabbitohs were in again eight minutes later when Jason Clark charged onto the ball to score a determined try from close range.
The Raiders added two late tries by Croker and Whitehead to put some respectability into the scoreline.