Superstar fullback Latrell Mitchell put on an absolute clinic as the Rabbitohs thrashed the Warriors 48-10 on Saturday afternoon.
Mitchell scored 24 points after producing two tries, two assists, two linebreaks, four tackle busts and slotting 8/8 conversions.
MATCH CENTER: Rabbitohs v Warriors, score, teams, videos, stats
It was South Sydney’s highest score of the season and the win leapfrogs them into sixth place on the NRL ladder with a real shot at a top-four finish.
Souths started as unbackable favorites and they quickly showed why – scoring at almost a point a minute in the first half.
The Warriors’ defense was atrocious all afternoon and it’s now the worst in the competition.
Rabbitohs lock Cameron Murray set up the opening three tries, with Lachlan Illias, Damien Cook and Tevita Tatola all crossing.
“He’s run for 75 meters, made a bunch of tackles and now has a third, yes a third, try assist,” Warren Smith said on Fox League after 17 minutes.
Murray passed to halfback Lachlan Ilias who stepped off his right foot and went through a yawning gap to score the opener in the fourth minute.
Murray then made a break down the middle and offloaded to hooker Cook who showed some nice footwork to score in the 10th minute.
The Souths captain made it three assists when he broke a few tackles close to the line before offloading for Tatola to score.
Next it was Keaon Koloamatangi who broke through some more soft defense to score from close range in the 22nd minute.
The Warriors pulled one back through Edward Kosi but the Rabbitohs were soon back at it when Mitchell burst through several tackles to score under the posts.
“You can’t put him down when he gets a chance winds up from that sort of range,” Warren Smith said on Fox League after Mitchell charged over from almost 20 meters out.
Mitchell then turned provider for winger Alex Johnston who joined NRL legends Matt Sing and Hazem El Masri on 159 career tries.
Mitchell picked up where he left off in the second half, throwing a bullet cut-out pass for debutant Izaac Thompson to score.
Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson crossed for a sharp try in the 51st minute when he passed and then wrapped around to take back the ball from Josh Curran and score.
Mitchell scored the simplest of tries after Jai Arrow ran a decoy and the former crossed untouched in the 56th minute for his double.
Here are three of the biggest takeaways from the match.
LATRELL SHINES AGAIN
Souths transformed into a different team upon the return of superstar Latrell Mitchell in Round 16.
They’ve now won five of six games since Mitchell came back from a lengthy hamstring lay-off, and their only loss came in golden point against the Sharks.
Mitchell’s individual brilliance simply makes his teammates better – and it was on display again against the Warriors.
The classy fullback scored a personal record 24 points after producing two tries, two try assists, two linebreaks, two linebreak assists, four tackle busts. He was rested for the final 20 minutes of the game.
“That was a big step in the right direction, tonight was about earning the right and all the boys kicked into another gear,” Mitchell told Fox League.
“It’s all about holding the ball and whoever does that and defends their line the best takes the lollies.
“I’m really enjoying this group and I couldn’t be at a better club.”
Mitchell set up tries on the each side of halftime for wingers Alex Johnston and debutant Izaac Thompson, with the second leaving rugby league great Steve Roach in awe.
“We are watching a magician in play here, Latrell Mitchell. Sit back and watch just how good that pass is,” Roach said.
“Watch this for class. Just the vision, bang, catch and pass. There’s not a lot of blokes who could throw that pass in the history of the game. That’s just brilliant.”
“That was poor play from the Warriors, they got caught flat footed and Ilias couldn’t believe his luck,” Steve Roach said on Fox League.
RABBITOHS EYEING TOP FOUR
Souths are charging towards the top four after clinching their fifth win in six games, and setting a new club record against the Warriors.
It’s the first time in over 100 years since the Rabbitohs have scored over 30 points in five straight games against an opponent (North Sydney 1917-19).
It was the Bunnies’ highest score and biggest win this season, their fourth 40-point scoreline and fifth win by at least 18 points.
They’re now sitting sixth and just one win outside the top four with four rounds remaining. They face top-eight sides the Eels, Panthers, Cowboys and Roosters on their run home.
“I thought the first half was pretty clinical,” Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou said.
“We’re looking good for our back end of the year with some of our key players hitting some form.
“Everyone talks about the draw but the beauty about what we’ve got at the back end is that we’ve got teams that are going to influence where we finish and it’s on us.
“Every two points will decide where we finish at the end of the year. There’s another two points up for grabs next week against a team that’s playing some good footy as well.”
Latrell Mitchell and Cameron Murray were sensational as the latter set up three tries but left the game late for an HIA.
“I’m feeling good, I’ve come away from it unscathed,” Murray said.
“Overall I thought we were pretty good tonight, we’re building nicely, everyone is buying into what we’re doing and we’re building our combinations.”
WARRIORS’ WOES CONTINUE
The Warriors started the game with the second-worst defense in the competition and they finished it with the worst.
The Kiwis were simply abysmal in defense as the Rabbitohs crossed with ease, scoring eight tries in the opening 56 minutes.
The Warriors have now conceded 561 points in 20 games this season, allowing more than 28 points per game.
They’ve lost 10 straight outside New Zealand and four of their past six by more than 20 points. It was the fourth time the Warriors have conceded 40 points this season.
Interim coach Stacey Jones said it was the worst performance he’s seen since replacing Nathan Brown two months ago.
“Since I’ve taken over in this role, that’s the most disappointed I’ve been,” Jones said.
“I thought our attitude to defense was terrible, we didn’t want to get physical with them and if you allow a team like that to dominate early that’s what happened.
“I told the boys we need to address not just how to turn up on game day but how we train. We’ve got four weeks to go and we need to show a lot more than we showed tonight.”
The Warriors copped it from Fox League commentators Warren Smith and Steve Roach all afternoon.
“That was poor play from the Warriors, they got caught flat footed and Ilias couldn’t believe his luck,” Roach after the first try.
“That was a little bit too easy. I said they were brittle, well maybe scratch that, they’re beyond brittle, they’re Swiss cheese, there’s not much defense from the Warriors,” Smith added after the third.
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