Monday 19 February 2018 / 01:14 PM

All indicators point SOUTH!

On Thursday night, the South Sydney Rabbitohs again flexed their muscles with a convincing 42-16 win over Brisbane at ANZ Stadium. Souths were clinical and devastating, running in seven tries to three – and putting a massive dent in the Broncos’ finals hopes.

Michael Maguire has this Bunnies side oozing with confidence. Their big names are firing on all cylinders. They’re impressive, and at times unstoppable forward pack are laying the platform, allowing Greg Inglis to run riot.

Inglis was outstanding against Brisbane, scoring three tries and having a hand in two others. Not only did Inglis help his side to a fifth straight victory, he put on a performance that earned himself a perfect ‘10’ player rating from Rugby League Week magazine, leaving the greats of the game in awe of his inexplicable talent. Eighth immortal Andrew ‘Joey’ Johns described it as Inglis’ “greatest ever performance”.

“He did it all,” Johns told the Sunday Footy Show panel.

“His plays will be talked about for the next 100 years.

“The instincts; the acceleration; and, he barged over to score one of his tries like a front-row forward. He’s out of this world.”

Johns’ comments come on the back of Queensland great Darren Lockyer’s, who earlier in the week likened Inglis to a modern-day Clive Churchill. A very fitting comparison considering Inglis has now firmed as favourite to take out the prestigious Clive Churchill Medal for a second time if Souths reach this year’s decider.

Not only is ‘GI’ wreaking havoc on the opposition; the South Sydney forward pack has been ruthless. The engine-room is being led by a resurgent Sam Burgess, who ran for 143 metres and managed two offloads – and of course the try assist that allowed Inglis to cross over for one of the greatest tries you will ever witness.

The exciting thing for the Rabbitohs this year is it’s not just Inglis and Burgess in career-best form. Sam’s younger brother Tom was also outstanding, running for an incredible 200 metres in the absence of suspended twin George.

It seems as if Tom Burgess is the player most likely to fill the massive void left in the Souths pack when Sam departs for English Rugby at season’s end.

Isaac Luke was also at his customary best. The unrelenting momentum Souths’ forwards gained allowed Luke to run freely from dummy-half, feeding quick, pressure-free ball to Luke Keary and Adam Reynolds. Brisbane’s forwards were simply no match for the fierce pace.

Post-match, coach Maguire expressed his happiness with his team’s performance, though he did not want to get too carried away, stressing his team would need to improve on some aspects before they encounter an in-form North Queensland outfit on Saturday at ANZ Stadium.

“Yeah, the boys have been really thorough in the things we’ve been working on in the last month or so,” Maguire stated.

“They are really aware of what they’re doing on the training paddock; it’s pleasing to see them do it on the field.

“Obviously we put in a good performance against Manly; we also performed well against Brisbane.

“We understand now we have to play North Queensland who are in some form, (so) we need to improve on some things.”

The Bunnies are all but guaranteed a finals berth this year. But their run home is quite possibly the hardest of any side in the competition. Souths will play the Cowboys at home, an unpredictable Canterbury outfit, also at ANZ Stadium, followed by a blockbuster at Allianz Stadium against premiers and archrivals the Sydney Roosters.

As hard as the run home sounds, it could in fact turn out to be a major advantage for the Rabbitohs. The three games they play will no doubt replicate finals footy – perfect preparation leading into September.

Two weeks ago, Manly loomed as unbeatable favourites. That was until they came up against this impressive South Sydney outfit at the SCG. The Sea Eagles were simply outmuscled. I still regard Manly as the biggest threat to the Rabbtiohs’ title aspirations, though Manly will need to be a lot sharper through the middle if they’re to match this pack.

If the Bunnies are to be crowned premiers in 2014, they must put the heartache of the last two years behind them. The September hoodoo that looms over them after back-to-back preliminary final defeats must not become a distraction. With Sam Burgess and Ben Te’o departing at season’s end, this shapes as the Rabbitohs’ best chance yet of breaking their four-decade premiership drought.


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Peter Fegan

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