South Sydney put on 20 points in 17 minutes either side of halftime to effectively to kill off any hope the Vodafone Warriors had of taking out tonight's 13th-round NRL clash at nib Stadium in Perth.
Until the final minutes of the first half the Vodafone Warriors had been right in touch at 4-8 after South Sydney had opened the scoring.
But, looking for their first win in Perth in seven attempts, the Vodafone Warriors again found the journey to Western Australia a trip too far as South Sydney unleashed to finish with a six-tries-to-one 36-4 victory.
It couldn't have been any more convincing for South Sydney, not that the Vodafone Warriors received any favours with the manner in which the Rabbitohs were awarded their first try.
Penetrating down the Vodafone Warriors’ right edge, Bryson Goodwin was grassed and ought to have been called held. Instead he was allowed to play on and busted away to score. It was a cruel decision with Issac Luke converting for a 6-0 lead after seven minutes.
The intensity in the opening period was at fever pitch, as it had been in the corresponding clash last year.
The Vodafone Warriors had plenty of heat in their defence, Manu Vatuvei and Ben Matulino both putting on thunderous hits in the space of a few seconds. Soon after a chance to draw level was lost when Matulino charged at the line, spun and offloaded with Jacob Lillyman on his shoulder. Somehow the ball didn’t stick.
The Rabbitohs went about building pressure again, challenging the Vodafone Warriors’ defence but when they won the opportunity for a repeat set through a penalty they passed it up and opted for two points instead. Luke piloted the goal for an 8-0 lead.
The Vodafone Warriors reacted quickly, putting heat on South Sydney with a superb set play to their left, working a runaround off Ryan Hoffman with fullback Tuimoala Lolohea shipping a great pass to Vatuvei. He thundered ahead, was knocked off balance but surged to put the ball down for his ninth try of the season, his career total up to 144 and just one needed to complete the unprecedented feat of scoring 10 tries in 10 consecutive seasons. Shaun Johnson couldn’t make the conversion leaving Souths leading 8-4.
The Vodafone Warriors had been hanging tough in a rugged contest but they would be left to rue the last seven minutes of the half.
In the 33rd minute the Rabbitohs again opted for two points when they were awarded a penalty in front and then struck with tries to forwards Chris Grevsmuhl and Tim Grant, Grant’s in the final second of the spell after South Sydney had packed a scrum swiftly following a Vodafone Warriors error on their line. They were killer blows enabling South Sydney to go to the sheds leading 22-4 when it had been 8-4 only seven minutes earlier.
It was during this period that captain Simon Mannering was taken from the field with a head knock, his absence obviously felt in those vital minutes (although he was cleared to return to start the second half).
There were soon more concerns on the scoreboard in the second half with Dylan Walker stepping through and Luke converting to take the lead out to 28-6 after 50 minutes.
If the Rabbitohs had been off their game in recent weeks they were almost unstoppable now going close to another try - rubbed out by the video referee - and then stretching out to a 32-4 lead when Clark and Johnston put on a dazzling show of footwork which ended in a try for the latter.
In the 74th minute Walker added a second to complete an emphatic 36-4 victory.
The Vodafone Warriors couldn't build any pressure with their error count too high and their completion rate just 19 from 32. It meant they were also forced to work excessively on defence making almost 90 more tackles than South Sydney.
There were few redeeming features although wing Ken Maumalo, having just his second game, impressed with his ball carrying, gaining 170 metres from 16 runs.
After the disappointing performance the Vodafone Warriors faced a rush to catch their Air New Zealand flight home. They're due to arrive in Auckland early on Sunday morning to begin their preparation for another searching test when they take on the Sydneyb Roosters at Mount Smart Stadium next Saturday night (8.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: Vodafone).
Match details | nib Stadium, Perth
South Sydney Rabbitohs 36 (Dylan Walker 2, Bryson Goodwin, Chris Grevsmuhl, Tim Grant, Alex Johnston tries; Issac Luke 4 conversions, 2 penalties).
Vodafone Warriors 4 (Manu Vatuvei try).
Halftime: 22-4 Rabbitohs.
Referees: Jared Maxwell and Chris Butler.
Vodafone Warriors | Tuimoala Lolohea; Ken Maumalo, Jonathan Wright, Solomone Kata, Manu Vatuvei; Chad Townsend, Shaun Johnson; Ben Matulino, Siliva Havili, Jacob Lillyman; Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman; Simon Mannering (c). Interchange: Nathan Friend, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Sam Lisone, Albert Vete.