This Review & Preview was written byDarren Brown & Steve Mavin for The Warren website.
Rabbitohs 60 v Roosters 8 – Round 20, 2020 Review by Darren Brown
The rivalry between the Sydney Roosters & the South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league teams is regarded as the fiercest and oldest in Australian sport, and last weeks game was no different.
The Ron Coote Cup was built up to be a one sided affair with all the experts predicting an easy victory to our arch rivals.
However someone forgot to tell that to Wayne and the boy’s from Redfern.
The Rabbitohs went into the game with a huge underdog tag after a disappointing loss to the bottom of the table Bulldogs the week before, unlike the Roosters who were looking to notch up their 6th straight win.
Missing from our line up was enforcer Jaydn Su’A and from the outset the Roosters took full advantage. The Chooks got off to a fast start scoring after 3 minutes and nearly crossing the line a short time later. For the first 10 minutes we were on the back foot and struggled to compete with the 2nd place Roosters.
After weathering the storm and once we gained some quality field position Cody Walker crossed for the first of his 2 tries off a great pass from skipper Adam Reynolds down the right edge to lead 6-4.
Then as they say…the rest is history.
In my opinion it was the best performance by a team this year and arguably the best game by an individual player, that being Cody Walker.
Cody was instrumental in everything we did scoring 2 tries, 3 try assists, 167 run metres, 7 tackle busts, 2 line breaks and 3 line break assists. A 10 out of 10 performance.
Adam Reynolds was over shadowed by his halves partner but also had a superb game playing a leading role. Reyno had a hand in several tries and built pressure with his ever so accurate kicking game.
There were multiple milestones achieved in this battle including 50 career tries to Cody, 100 to Alex Johnston & Reyno securing the top NRL point scorer for 2020. It was beautiful to watch us orchestrate a great win against one of the favourites to win the title.
The 60-4 win was set up by an 84% completion rate which gave our spine the opportunity to play some great football. The attack that was on display was second to none with us scoring some spectacular tries and our prolific try scoring machine AJ achieving yet another milestone scoring 5…yes 5 tries to top the try scoring list with 20.
The most memorable try of the game was when we sent an attacking raid down our left edge, AJ then drew the fullback and put Corey Allan on his way to the try line. Then all of a sudden Corey hears AJ calling for the ball so he can score his 4th try but more importantly join Kyle Feldt at the top of the try scoring list with 19 tries for the season. It’s what this club is all about, unselfishness and team morale. Well done to Corey Allan.
Special mention to Allan who I thought played exceptionally well and had his best game for the club to date. His involvement and ability to be around the ball was exciting to watch.
Our forwards, led by Liam Knight with 181 running metres absolutely dominated the opposition pack with some powerful running and brutal defence. Junior Tatola returned from injury and Cameron Murray moved to the right edge giving Liam the opportunity to start at 13.
Keaon Koloamatangi was once again a standout coming off the bench, he ran for big metres with an impressive post contact stat which set the team up for our attacking raids.
With the finals around the corner, it was important that we got back to winning form and there’s no better team to do that against than the Chooks. They had no answers for us once we clicked into gear.
Our performance was a shot across the bow of every team in the finals series.
Bring on the Knights next week.
1st Elimination Final: Rabbitohs v Knights ANZ Stadium 4pm Sunday 5th October 2020 Preview by Steve Mavin
Since the current 8 team finals system was adopted in 2012 no team from outside the top 4 has won the premiership. In 2017 the 8th placed Cowboys managed to make the grand final only to be rolled by the Storm juggernaut. It’s not impossible to do but being asked to win 4 finals games in a row against all the best teams is extremely difficult to say the least.
It’s never happened but some day surely it will & 2020 could well be the year if the Rabbitohs keep producing the scintillating form they conjured up in their final round dismantling of the Chooks.
This dreaded Corona virus has changed the world as we know it so a history making run by the Rabbitohs would be a shining light in a year filled with darkness.
The Rabbitohs host the Knights in a sudden death battle at ANZ this Sunday & it’s a game they are expected to win after flogging the back to back premiers in the final round of the season.
Throw in the fact that the Knights were smashed 36-6 by the resurgent Titans & it’s hard to make a case for anything other than the Bunnies cruising into the second week of the finals.
Finals footy does however not always follow the script, this is a new week, a new game & the team can’t afford to be complacent in the slightest. Master coach Wayne Bennett will ensure this won’t happen.
The Bunnies are well aware of what the Knights can do after they were beaten by Kaylin Pongas men in round 10 at Bankwest Stadium. The Novacastrians shot out to a 20 nil lead that could’ve been even higher if Ponga had converted more than one goal. The Bunnies failed to score a point until the 65th minute of the game on their way to a 20-18 defeat.
Since then both teams have had their ups & downs with only a single point separating them at the end of regular season, the Rabbitohs on 24 & the Knights 23.
Souths come into this clash riding a tidal wave of confidence with star performers throughout their lineup. The Knights limp into the game picking up the pieces of a season that promised so much but has begun to crumble when it matters most.
The Knights let the Titans score 7 tries against them last week & now face a Rabbitohs team that scored 10 tries when they embarrassed the Chooks.
Campbell Graham didn’t play in the round 10 loss to the Knights & his 10 tries in the last 7 games makes him the form centre of the competition.
Jaydn Su’A (who we spoke to on the podcast this week) has emerged as an enforcer & played a pivotal role in a Souths pack that has silenced many of its early season critics. Bayley Sironens elevation to a starting back rower on the left edge has seen him perform at a consistently high level on a weekly basis.
Keaon Koloamatangi forced his way onto a solid bench & has now become an integral member of the team with his powerful running & hungry work rate.
Cody Walker is in superb form & is almost unstoppable at the moment. Adam Reynolds is also back showing the form with the ball & boot that took us all the way in 2014.
Corey Allan has been brilliant at the back & is starting to realise the talent that he promised as a dazzling young star player.
We’re also lucky enough to have 2 of the best players in the NRL, our Origin heroes Damien Cook & Cameron Murray. Both of these blokes have the ability to turn the game in our favour, Cooky with his blinding speed out of dummy half & Cam with his equally impressive ability to play the ball quickly & give his team the jump on retreating defences.
We have plenty of big guns ready to fire on a Knights team playing away from home but aside from all of that perhaps the most important thing the Rabbits need to remember is that defence wins big games & any team containing a young superstar by the name of K. Ponga is a dangerous proposition.
The Bunnies just need to get the simple things right like defence, holding the ball & completing sets. If this occurs then the entertaining rugby league that we all love to see will charge through the opposition like a 309 bus hurtling down Botany Road.
I tip the Rabbitohs to make another statement with a convincing victory & roll on into a big finals run.
The Knights should start preparing for yet another Mitchell Pearce led Mad Monday celebration & if any of the Knights players happen to be reading this then don’t worry boys there’s always next year.
All three of us are Rabbitohs members. Chaps is a ticketed member #12433 with seats directly opposite the tunnel at ANZ Stadium. Mavo member #2217679 & Browny #1434904 are supporter members of the club. Membership starts at just $99 per year & it’s a fantastic & important way to support our club. We don’t have a rich leagues club providing us with revenue streams but we do have a huge fan base. If you’re not a member click the image below to join today.
On the podcast this week we talk to legendary photographer Col Whelan, our Remembering A Rabbitoh is Paul Sait & we check out our newest Rabbitoh Jaxson Paulo.
Famous photographer Col Whelan gives us one of the best interviews we’ve had on the podcast. Cols’ life & times are nothing short of amazing from meeting Nelson Mandela, taking once in a lifetime photos to writing a best selling book on Pubs.
Paul Joseph Sait (Saity) #549 was 4th September 1947. Sait went to school at Matraville Public and also played his junior footy for the Matraville Tigers, he is a South Sydney man through & through. Sait worked his way through the grades at Souths and eventually made his debut in round 4 against Wests at Lidcombe Oval in 1968.
One of the most ferocious players to have ever worn the Red and Green, Paul Sait became a fan favourite among the Rabbitohs’ faithful as a versatile competitor from 1968-1978. In 1969 he come off the bench in the famous loss to the Tigers in the grand final & was unlucky when a controversial no try wasn’t awarded to him late in the game. “Referee Keith Page did us no favours, with the Balmain players going down injured all the time”, he once said.
In 1970 he played in the centres and marked up against rugby league Immortal Bob Fulton and played well smashing Fulton every chance he got. His form in 1970 saw him rewarded with a spot on the winning Kangaroo World Cup squad. Sait again played in the centres in the 71” grand final win over St George 16-10 & also made his test debut in 71” against the Kiwi’s which was a proud moment for Paul & his family.
When Ron Coote left the club in 72” Sait moved into his preferred position of lock forward at Souths. The same year Sait was again a part of the Australian World Cup squad, putting in one of his finest performances against France where he scored a double in the 31-9 win. In 73” He played in all 3 matches again Great Britain.
Ron Coote said of his former team mate “he was a brilliant player, he had to wait to make his mark in first grade but then he did a terrific job, he played in the centres and also in the forwards or wherever you needed him to play. Sait was a fine attacking player and he could defend too. Sait retired in 1978 the same way he started playing against Wests at Lidcome Oval.
Sait was made a life member of the Rabbitohs in 1991 He is a member of Souths dream team He was also named in the Souths Juniors team of the century He captained his beloved Rabbitohs He was a versatile player who could play front row, second row, lock, 5/8 and in the centres.
Pauls son Paul Jnr aka Stich said “Dad coached Souths lower grades and also the Illawarra Red Devils & La Perouse. I also remember going to Souths games and being in the dressing room & being allowed to sit on the sideline. Dad would take us surfing when we were young, he loved surfing, spearfishing water skiing. Now we just enjoy quiet birthday get togethers”.
Thanks again to Marco Sivis & Brad Ryder for their contributions.
I’ve always been fascinated by the year the South Sydney Rabbitohs began in 1908. The focal point of the this tale is Arthur Stephen Hennessy nickname A.S.H & I was immediately drawn to the fact that we share the name Stephen spelt with the PH. ASH is Rabbitoh first grade player #1 & I’m #757, he made his debut in 1908 & mine was 1987 but we are both Stephens & Rabbitohs players so for me we share an affinity. I realise it’s only his middle name, the S in the acronym ASH but the man known as the ‘Father Of The Rabbitohs’ and I both suited up for the mighty Rabbits & didn’t spell our name Steven with the V. (Yes I do answer to the shortened version Steve but that’s beside the point!)
The most satisfying discovery I made was to uncover the fact that the first rugby league game ever played in Australia was held on the 21st of March 1908 at Sir Joseph Banks Park Botany. On this historic day a South Sydney Possibles & Probables trial match was played. I was born & bred in Botany, played for the Botany Rams & still live here today but I never knew about this game that ASH took part in was played at a park that I roamed as a kid.
In The Beginning…
The story of the Rabbitohs inaugural season in 1908 & their eventual victory in the first ever Australian rugby league grand final is a tale that Rabbitohs fans will cherish forever.
Stories will endlessly be told about the clubs Redfern origins, it’s 11-7 victory over North Sydney the first time the team took the field & the march to glory over the Roosters in the grand final at the end of that season.
This article takes you through some key points of this time & highlights the involvement of the ‘Father Of The Rabbitohs’ Arthur Hennessy.
Rugby League broke away from Rugby Union in the late 1800s for the simple reason that players weren’t being paid. The greatest game of all was born in England in 1895.
The beginning of South Sydney traces back to early meetings in the Australian test cricketer Victor Trumper’s shop. Trumper is one of the most important figures in the club’s formation.
Five other men also played huge roles in creating the Rabbitohs – Arthur Hennessy, S. George Ball, Johnny McGrath, Billy Cann & Ed “Son” Fry. Early meetings were held in 1907, plans were hatched then finally a meeting took place on 17th January 1908 at Redfern Town Hall Sydney to form the South Sydney District Rugby League Club.
Arthur Stephen Hennessy (nickname ASH) was born in Sydney on the 24th September 1876. Hennessy played hooker & although only a small man at 5ft 8ins (173cm) & 12st. 6lbs. (79kg) he would become a star rugby union player winning a competition with Souths Rugby Union in 1905 & gaining NSW representative honours.
By the time he finally helped create the NSWRL & the Rabbitohs, Hennessy was 31 years old so his career as a rugby league player was relatively short but he would go on to become the first captain of NSW & the Australian Kangaroos.
A trial match was organised between the South Sydney Possibles & Probables on the 21st March 1908 at Sir Joseph Banks Park Botany as a tune up for the upcoming season but also so the players could learn the rules to this newly created game. Englishman Tom McCabe lectured players and officials on the finer points of the new code. This historic match would be the first ever rugby league game played on Australian soil. Hennessy captained the Probables but they were defeated 9-8 by the Possibles led by Bill Cann.
On the 20th April 1908 the big one happened, the Rabbitohs first ever competition game in the NSWRL. Hennessy took the field for the Bunnies at Birchgrove Oval as an undersized captain/coach. Arthur Hennessy would earn the honour of being named Souths first grade player number #1. This numbering system was introduced by the club in 2003 & Hennessy was allocated his number then. The modern players like myself have embraced this numbering system with pride. Chris McQueen has his number 1070 boldly tattooed on his neck below is left ear.
The first ever try scorer for Souths was winger Tommy Anderson (first grade player #2) in the 11-7 win over North Sydney.
Souths would win their next 2 games before suffering defeat for the first time at the hands of arch rivals Eastern Suburbs 13-12 at the Royal Agricultural Society Showground. The Souths v Easts rivalry has been around for as long as the game has existed.
This would be Souths only loss of the season, they would remain undefeated all the way through to the grand final where they turned the tables on Easts to win the game 14-12. This result secured the competition, the first of the clubs 21 premierships, a record that has allowed the Rabbitohs to be continually described as the ‘Pride Of The League’
Hennessy would only play 5 games for Souths in 1908 before leaving for England on board the RMS Macedonia with the 1908-09 Kangaroos with 2 rounds to go before the finals. When their ship stopped over in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) the Rabbitohs players received a telegram from the team saying a simple message “Premiers”.
The tour robbed both Souths & Easts of their best players for the grand final & condemned the game to a contest without the best talent competing. Notable absentees that went on tour for Souths were Arthur Hennessy, Tommy Anderson & Arthur Butler (first grade player #3) while Easts lost the one & only Dally Messenger, Dan Frawley & Sandy Pearce.
Arthur Hennessy suffered a broken jaw on the Kangaroo tour & didn’t play in a test match. Hennessy played a total of 26 games for the Rabbitohs & would go into coach the Rabbitohs & Kangaroos.
Hennessy would create a institution of “running rugby” at South Sydney. He strongly advocated the no kick principle, emphasizing the importance of ball possession to score tries. This came to be the mark of South Sydney’s football with straight running and backing up. The no kick policy produced fast, open football and for Souths a remarkable winning record.
Hennessy was also caught up in the boundary wars with Easts that forced him to play for the tri colours for a short period.
Hennessy moved to Maroubra where he invested in the Maroubra Speedway and in mini-golf, and partly owned the Amusu cinema, Maroubra, living in a cottage opposite the theatre. Survived by his wife, Hennessy died on 19 September 1959 and was buried with Anglican rites in Botany cemetery.
After a 43 year drought the Rabbitohs won their 21st premiership in 2014. This victory meant that their legions of fans could celebrate the ‘Pride Of The League’ once again & sing the song ‘Glory Glory to South Sydney….South Sydney marches on’.
On Friday 26th June 2020 an image was posted in our newly created Facebook group ‘Rabbitohs Radio Podcast Listeners’ by legendary photographer Col Whelan.
Beneath the photo Col asked the question “Any idea who these blokes are”?
The next day we had our answer thanks to Chris Isouard. In the picture stood three Rabbitohs legends Albert Clift, George Treweek & Eddie Root.
“Albert mentioned this day in a couple of his interviews over the years” said Chris. “Treweek and Root visited him in the early 80s and presented him with some of their playing memorabilia. Like many, Albert was a hero of mine and inspired me as a kid to collect everything Souths”.
Albert Clift was a former player for South Sydney, former official and director, was the Club’s first mascot back in 1968, held an amazing collection of Rabbitohs memorabilia including the famed timekeeper’s bell from the first game in 1908 & is a Life Member of the Football Club.
Eddie Root (first grade player #139) 109 games & 34 tries was a starting forward in the Rabbitohs golden era of 7 premiership wins between 1925-32. Root had a brilliant career & is rightly regarded as one of the greatest ever Rabbitohs.
The 1931 Rabbitohs
The 1931 South Sydney Rabbitohs defeated the Eastern Suburbs Roosters 12-7 in the NSWRL grand final. Eddie Root was the hooker & George Treweek played second row.
George Treweek (first grade player #153) 119 games & 40 tries was a starting forward in the Rabbitohs golden era of 7 premiership wins between 1925-32. He is a legendary attacking player who was rated as the finest second row forward the game has produced.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs broke their 3 game losing streak on Saturday afternoon 13th June 2020 at Bankwest Stadium, Sydney with a 32-12 victory over the Gold Coast Titans.
This victory song has traditionally been sung by the team for decades dating back to the Bunnies glory days. We can’t give you the exact date it began to be used but perhaps there’s a Bunnies historian reading this now that could enlighten us. Mavo & Browny love singing the tune because it brings back memories of wins with their mates.
The songs lyrics are-
“Now that we’re all around the bar And the captains declared it a quorum We’re drinking our way through the night And we’re having the time of our lives Throw the empties away start again, start again For the boys of South of South Sydney are together And we’ll drink til the dawn breaks again May the sessions of South Sydney last forever Up the Rabbitohs!”