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South Sydney Rabbitohs 22 v Sydney Roosters 40
The Sydney Roosters have produced a commanding second half performance to defeat the South Sydney Rabbitohs by 40 points to 22 at Telstra Stadium this afternoon, but not without controversy.
The major talking point to come out of this match was Adrian Morley?s seemingly illegal hit on Rabbitohs halfback Ben Walker, midway through the second half. Under the new rules, any hit above the shoulder, regardless of whether it be the shoulder or from a swinging arm, is now deemed to be illegal.
Morley appeared to strike Walker with the shoulder, leaving Walker with serious head injuries which forced him to leave the field. The hit led to a Roosters try. Referee Jason Robinson awarded the try without referring the decision to the video referee, which culminated with Morley being called to speak with Robinson on the halfway line. Morley was subsequently placed on report for an offence which, had he been caught out in the act, may have resulted in the first ejection from the playing arena in the 2006 season.
Supporters were bemused with the fact that Robinson allowed the try to remain, despite the fact that Morley had committed an illegal offence in the process of the try being scored.
Aside from the incident, the Roosters were clinical in their domination of the Rabbitohs, winning the second half by 34 points to 4 and winning the match 40-22.
It was the Rabbitohs who came out firing early, taking an 18-6 lead into the halftime break and it seemed they would continue from where they left off last season with some promising performances.
It was however the men from Bondi who prevailed, proving too strong for their southern Sydney rivals.
Jamie Soward and Amos Roberts were outstanding for the visitors, while five-eighth John Sutton was clearly the best for the Bunnies.
Braith Anasta was quiet early on, but appeared to erase a few cob-webs in the second half and created some opportunities for the Roosters, while Brett Finch had a solid start at hooker in his new-found role.
The turning point though, was the Morley/Walker incident which occurred at the 55th minute, a time at which the Rabbitohs held an 18-16 advantage. The incident will no doubt be a bitter pill to swallow for the South Sydney faithful, and will come under the microscope with the video review committee tomorrow.
With a past history of serious judiciary offences, one would expect that with closer video scrutiny, Morley?s moment of madness may result in a lengthy stint on the sidelines for the Great Britain international.
South Sydney Rabbitohs: 22
Tries: Nathan Merritt, Yileen Gordon, John Sutton, Ben Walker
Goals: Ben Walker 3/3, Nathan Merritt 0/1
Sydney Roosters: 40
Tries: Amos Roberts (2), Ryan Cross, Brett Finch, Anthony Minichello, Iosia Soliola, Jamie Soward
Goals: Craig Fitzgibbon 4/4, Amos Roberts 2/3
Venue: Telstra Stadium
Referee: Jason Robinson
Half time: South Sydney 18-6
Buddy Gordon takes the field for the injured Adam MacDougall. Shillington replaces Tupou in the starting line-up for the Roosters.
0 min: NEWS And we're underway in the first half! Beautiful sundrenched day here in Sydney.
7 min: TRY Sydney Roosters
Braith Anasta throws a cut-out pass to Ryan Cross who beats the outside Rabbitohs men and finds Anasta back on the inside who gives it to Minichello to score his first for the year.
13 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
Walker makes up for some sloppy handling earlier with a great individual try. He grubbers through and puts pressure on Shillington who he strips the ball from, then barges over next to the posts, carrying Mini. He converts his own try easily.
21 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
As Walker looks trapped with the ball on the last, he finds Polglase who bursts through the middle and chips to the wing for Gordon who scores a sensational try out wide. Walker converts from the sideline in grand fashion.
27 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Rabbits move the ball wide and find Rigon who presses the line before dropping it back behind him for Sutton to pick up and score and easy try, stunning the Roosters. Walker knocks it over and the Rabbitohs are playing a very enthusiastic and exciting brand of footy.
28 min: NEWS Roberts kicks out on the full from the restart, giving Souths a penalty at halfway.
35 min: NEWS Both teams a little scratchy early in the year with a few unforced errors creeping into play. The ground conditions are also leaving a little to be desired. The surface seems to be breaking up a fair bit and looks very soft underfoot.
40 min: NEWS A great first half effort here from the Bunnies, leading a stunned Roosters outfit by 18-6 with some very enterprising play.
40 min: NEWS Second half underway at Telstra Stadium
43 min: TRY Sydney Roosters
Cross strolls in under the posts, running off a brilliant ball from new recruit Braith Anasta.
48 min: TRY Sydney Roosters
Soliola scores an end to end try, a somewhat controversial one after Adrian Morley committed an illegal tackle on Ben Walker in the lead-up to the try.
50 min: NEWS Morley on report for the tackle on Ben Walker.
52 min: TRY Sydney Roosters
Soward crosses for another Roosters try. A bitter pill to swallow for fuming Souths fans after the Morley tackle escaped with just a report.
58 min: TRY Sydney Roosters
Roberts comes up with some excellent support play, running off Jamie Soward, who again is again causing havoc for the Souths defensive line and Roberts scores again. The Roosters are now running riot over the Rabbitohs.
63 min: TRY Sydney Roosters
Finch scores a well-deserved try in his debut game at hooker. This game is albeit over now.
70 min: TRY Sydney Roosters
Roberts is over again and the floodgates are now officially open.
80 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
Nathan Merritt grabs a consolation intercept try for the Rabbitohs on the siren. The Roosters have ended up the victors by 40 points to 22, a victory somewhat soured by Adrian Morley's cheap-shot on Ben Walker 15 minutes into the second half.
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Jamie Soward (Roosters)
2 - Amos Roberts (Roosters)
1 - John Sutton (Rabbitohs)