They have been bitter rivals since 1908 and between them share 36 premierships. All 248 of their encounters have meant different things at different times. Their 249th clash had its own script and story to tell – one more chapter to the famous book of feuds.
Souths enjoyed a scoreline to remember with a 54-12 win, but face a nervous wait over the fate of Latrell Mitchell for a high tackle on furious former teammate Joey Manu that could rule both of them out for the season.
Mitchell has already been charged three times this season and has no discounts at the judiciary. Manu looked for all the world as if he’d suffered a serious cheekbone injury.
— The NRL Tweet (@NRLTweet) August 27, 2021
Cooper Cronk said he thought Mitchell might not play again this season unless the Rabbitohs make the grand final, while Roosters coach Trent Robinson was livid.
“Look I love Latrell and I’ve played a lot of football with Latrell and he is a heavy competitor and South Sydney need him in their side to win the grand final,” Cronk said on Fox Sports.
“He has already had one similar charge with David Nofoaluma in Round 6 and missed four weeks.
“He has got priors. I think Souths have to make the grand final for Latrell to play again. You think about it next week is one. Finals week one is two. They win that or lose that’s three and preliminary final is four.
“That is four weeks takes you to a grand final. He is that important. Latrell Mitchell played the house down tonight in terms of his performance, but he is going to miss the majority of this season to come.”
Roosters coach Trent Robinson described the performance of the match officials as “laughable”.
“It took Joey to stand up and stick up for himself with a depressed fracture of the cheekbone and they still didn’t want to do anything about it,” he said. “Henry Perenara in the bunker didn’t stop play. Ashley (Klein) asked them to play on and then the players went at it again. Then they missed it again.
“It is a common theme this year about the NRL and bunker not looking after our players. The guy is off in hospital and they send him for ten in the bin, ten in the bin. It was laughable. A guy will finish the year for a late shot on the head.”
For months we have been waiting for the Sydney Roosters to buckle, wilt and fade out of the title race. On Friday night in Brisbane, they were missing 14 front-line players. Inspirational leaders Boyd Cordner, Jake Friend and Brett Morris all retired mid-season.
Luke Keary has been out forever.
Nobody told the Roosters they were meant to go away.
Behind the calm demeanour and designer suit, coach Robinson would have been anxious to see his motley crew of disciples step up and fight again.
To keep believing. Their foes from the other side of Anzac Parade had a point to prove.
Despite being one of the best-performed teams in the NRL in 2021, the South Sydney Rabbitohs just haven’t been able to get it together against the runaway grand final day favourites – Melbourne and Penrith.
Last weekend, Souths were in it up to their eyeballs against the Panthers before being swallowed whole by the Penrith machine.
They did themselves no favours and were completely outplayed in the second half.
Wayne Bennett and the Rabbitohs had been waiting at the front of the line to get into the NRL’s sexiest bar and when they had their chance, they slurred their words and fumbled their ID.
To beat the Roosters would not be enough. They had to make a statement.
At halftime at Suncorp Stadium, everything was going South Sydney’s way.
But it was all a little too easy.
While the Roosters were gutsy and were doing their best, Souths really didn’t break out of a jog. It looked like an intense training session at best. Souths led 24-6 at the break.
The Rabbitohs had to keep the foot on the throat in the second half. It didn’t happen – for a while, anyway.
Memories of last week against the Panthers came rolling back. Robinson’s Roosters wouldn’t die.
They kept fighting. Within ten minutes of the second stanza, the Tricolours had it back to 24-12.
All the while, the Rabbitohs were happy to sit themselves in second gear. Then a bomb landed on Lang Park.
With the Roosters attacking, Mitchell came across in covering defence and hit former teammate Manu with a shot that was clearly high. Social media is still burning. Some want to suspend Mitchell for the next 12 months.
At the very least, with his record, Mitchell will be missing some games.
His coach Wayne Bennett shot back at Robinson.
“Trent has got a couple of those players himself that he coaches so I don’t know what he is looking over the fence at us for. We will handle our own situation,” Bennett said.
“No-one likes to see what happened out there tonight…but I’m sure they get to write another chapter in the book of feuds between the Roosters and South Sydney. I’m sure Russell (Crowe) will enjoy that part of it.”
Souths have been great against the lesser sides and their fans have been trying to work out what the recipe is to topple the Storm or the Panthers.
Ironically, the ingredient they need the most is the one they might find suspended.
When Mitchell was binned by referee Ashley Klein, the Rabbitohs woke up again and walked all over the Roosters.
Then he came back onto the field and they went to another level again.
Souths put on 54 points and only flexed when they had to.
Fans and experts are divided on what punishment Mitchell should cop for his tackle on Manu.
But a good argument at the judiciary could easily see Latrell back before the end of the season.
The Rabbitohs just need to keep bouncing and hope they see Mitchell again in 2021.