The Cowboys have underlined their top four credentials by comfortably winning the Queensland Derby 40-26 in a high scoring affair in Townsville.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs have torn through the North Queensland Cowboys 46-18 after the Cowboys actually led the Bunnies 12-2 within the first 20 minutes but faded away thanks to a Cody Walker performance that featured four try assists, five line break assists and zero errors.
Walker put on a masterclass but both Rabbitohs wingers Alex Johnston and Taane Milne scored hat tricks.
Johnston has scored a double or more in five consecutive games with the recently resigned Rabbitohs winger now leading the race for top try scorer of the year.
Nearly all of the Rabbitohs’ back five ran for over 150 metres with Campbell Graham being the only player in the back line who didn’t run for over 100 metres.
Blake Taaffe made his starting debut at fullback and played the full 80 minutes and crossed over for a try in the first half and ran for 180 metres.
With Damien Cook and Cameron Murray missing due to Origin, I thought the Rabbitohs’ defence would be leaky through the middle but second gamer Peter Mamouzelos and Hame Sele really kept the Bunnies’ defence together through the middle with the two players combing for 64 tackles with only three misses.
Second-row forward Keaon Koloamatangi was once again very consistent with 181 running metres and 95 post-contact metres.
Jaydn Su’A has been on the outer at the Rabbitohs and recently signed with the Dragons, but he came back into the side and his defence was very good.
Myself and many other people have questioned Su’A’s defence after he was caught out multiple times against the Panthers when the Bunnies lost 56-12 but the second-row forward came back in and was strong in defence and put some nice shots on.
Liam Knight and Tom Burgess both ran for around 130 metres and were very good. Both knew their jobs, which was to run hard and gain as many metres as possible and they both succeeded in their jobs.
Benji Marshall came on and played well in his 36 minutes on the field and when Walker left the field in the final ten minutes of the second half, he set up a nice try for Johnston to score.
Adam Reynolds was told by Wayne Bennett to kick the Rabbitohs to victory during halftime and the halfback came out and did exactly that early in the second half.
But once again the way he approaches the line and draws in defenders is really the reason why Walker and the Bunnies’ attack are allowed to do what they do.
His defence was also very good after the Brisbane Broncos-bound halfback made 15 tackles and didn’t miss a single tackle. The Rabbitohs were so dominant, though, that the Cowboys’ four bench players didn’t manage to run for over 50 metres and couldn’t manage 100 metres combined.
Only three Cowboys, in fact, ran for over 100 metres and those players were Jason Taumalolo, Kyle Feldt and Connelly Lemuelu.