Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

NRL: Souths got talent to beat hex factor

Greg Inglis skips around Blake Ferguson. Photo / Getty Images
Greg Inglis skips around Blake Ferguson. Photo / Getty Images

It's hard to see them going much further in the playoffs but at least Souths have broken their lengthy finals hex. Before last night's comprehensive victory the Rabbitohs hadn't won a finals match since 1986.

There were some nervous moments, as the Raiders closed to within 10 points early in the second half, but Souths finished with a flourish and a rare penalty try - awarded after Greg Inglis was taken out just before he received the ball - sealed the result in the 65th minute.

The Rabbitohs don't look genuine premiership contenders - they still default to erratic too often and David Taylor can be a 122kg liability - but they were more like their real selves yesterday.

Souths had looked like bunnies caught in the headlights a week earlier, under intense pressure from the Storm.

After taking over 70 minutes to find the tryline last week, they opened their account in the eighth minute last night through Adam Reynolds, after Isaac Luke cut open the Raiders defence up the middle.

Luke's speed from dummy half electrified the Rabbitohs from the outset, making the decision to leave him out of the starting 13 last week even more mystifying.

At times in the first quarter it felt like the home side were running downhill, as they hit (and often dented) the Canberra defensive line at a fearsome speed.

After some near misses, Andrew Everingham crossed in the 23rd minute to extend their lead.

Shaun Berrigan's introduction lifted the Raiders and they responded with two tries in three minutes, a solo effort by Sam Williams (30th minute) and a fortunate deflected grab by Sandor Earl (32nd minute). Canberra had grabbed some momentum but Sam Burgess notched the third try (38th minute) for the home side, and early in the second half (43rd minute) Dylan Farrell extended the lead. A Blake Ferguson try gave Canberra hope but Inglis' penalty try was the final nail.

The Rabbitohs face the Bulldogs next Saturday. Manly travel to Melbourne on Friday night in a replay of the 2007 and 2008 grand finals.

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a5 at 02 Oct 2014 07:34:58 Processing Time: 647ms