|Hot, crossing Bunnies
By Greg Prichard - www.smh.com.au, 31/03/2002
The true believers
would have found the irony delicious. South Sydney, the
club that refused to give up its tradition and was kicked
out of the competition only to get back in, against what
is left of the Manly and North Sydney clubs that formed a
joint venture to survive - and the Rabbitohs won.
And now that they've won two games in a row, after
falling to the Sydney Roosters in their premiership
come-back match, maybe Souths are right after all when
they say they can make the finals.
Norths no longer have a role within the joint venture, so
it is Manly who will have to cope with the disappointment
of a poor start to the season all on their own.
The result was never really in doubt. Four converted
tries in the first 20 minutes by Souths - punctuated by
just the one from the Eagles - set the tone of the match.
The Eagles, probably already envisaging a long, hard
season if this was how tough it was going to be against
Souths, were under enormous pressure and the Rabbitohs
weren't letting up.
Souths' tries varied widely in style, with equal elements
of skill, luck, opportunism and determination.
A useless chip from Eagles' five-eighth Tasesa Lavea in
the third minute went straight to Souths' fullback, Wade
McKinnon. Immediately noticing a gap in the defence
straight ahead of him, McKinnon took off and went 80m to
The Eagles hit back in the seventh minute when winger
John Hopoate crashed over from close range, but then the
Rabbitohs hit them with a combination of blows from which
they never really recovered.
Halfback Blaine Stanley bombed to the left in the 10th
minute and winger Brent Grose contested the ball with two
Eagles' players. Grose came down with it, and doubled
around to the wing before scoring.
Prop Paul Stringer scored from what was meant to be
nothing more than a settling hit-up off a tap 10 metres
out from the Eagles' line in the 17th minute and in the
20th minute, centre Russell Richardson crossed after a
Stanley chipped the ball to 35m out from the Eagles' line
and McKinnon followed through.
Eagles' full-back Brendon Reeves looked at least as good
a bet as McKinnon to get to it first, but McKinnon beat
him to it and kicked it off the ground to the left.
Next, Grose kicked it off the ground and the ball bounced
off Hopoate's leg and into the arms of centre Russell
Richardson, who could hardly believe his luck as he
strolled away for the try.
It didn't matter where Souths scored; winger Scott McLean
was converting from everywhere and their 24-6 lead looked
enormous, but to the Eagles' credit, they didn't fold.
Instead, they began to show some more heart in defence
and after conceding 24 points in the first 20 minutes,
they conceded none in the second 20, and managed to cut
the deficit to 12 points with a converted try in the 35th
Much like Hopoate had scored earlier, Reeves made it over
from close range.
30 March 2002
Hopoate B Reeves T Lavea J Goddard tries J Ferris 2
Richardson 3 W McKinnon 2 B Grose P Stringer S McLean
tries S McLean 6 goals)
Referee: S. Clark
2 Robert MILES
3 Lenny BECKETT
4 Ben MacDOUGALL
5 John HOPOATE
6 Tasesa LAVEA
7 Jason FERRIS
8 Grant WOODEN
9 Jamie GODDARD
10 David WESTLEY
11 Nathan LONG
12 Mark SHIPWAY
13 Steven MENZIES (C)
15 Wade FORRESTER
16 Brad KELLY
17 Shayne DUNLEY