South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds has stolen Cooper Cronk’s thunder on the Sydney Roosters’ milestone 350th NRL match at the SCG.
Reynolds crashed Cronk’s party to pilot the Rabbitohs to a stirring 26-16 win over the Roosters in an explosive first-round NRL showdown between the game’s two oldest and fiercest rivals.
In joining Terry Lamb on 350 games played, Cronk now sits behind only former Melbourne teammate Cameron Smith (385) and Brisbane great Darren Lockyer (355) for most appearances in premiership history.
But the Roosters’ 2018 grand final hero’s night ended in disappointment as Reynolds produced a commanding performance for the Rabbitohs under new coach Wayne Bennett.
Reynolds had a hand or boot in four of Souths’ five tries, with two assists incredibly coming after his probing kicks ricocheted off the uprights and gleefully into the arms of teammates.
Lock Cameron Murray was the first beneficiary in the 12th minute and then five-eighth Dylan Walker cashed in midway through the second half to give Souths a decisive eight-point buffer.
Reynolds also threw the last pass for vital tries to winger Campbell Graham and a lovely cut-out for the match-sealing four-pointer for fullback Alex Johnston.
While Reynolds also slotted three conversions, Cronk had to settle for a first-half try assist for Mitch Aubusson and a shove in the chest from Walker as tensions boiled over following Johnston’s late strike.
Walker appeared to take exception to a few words and some finger pointing from Cronk, the clash sparking an old-fashioned melee.
But it was Walker, Reynolds and the Rabbits who had the last laugh.