Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
Minor premiers South Sydney Rabbitohs have secured a spot in the Toyota Cup Grand Final thanks to an eleven-try 64-18 thrashing of Canberra Raiders at ANZ Stadium.
South Sydney dominated from start to finish and tries to young winger James Roberts and fellow centre Junior Vai Vai gave the Bunnies a 12-0 lead after just 14 minutes.
However, Canberra finally got some field position and had no trouble converting it into points, with Junior Kiwi squad member Matt McIlrick crashing through some lazy defence from dummy half.
Kane Morgan then gifted an unmarked Roberts his second but the Raiders hit back thanks to a surging break from second rower Mark Nicholls which was finished off in true fullback style by Sean Loxley.
Loxley's four-pointer was a mere blip on the radar for Souths, who crossed for two further tries through Adam Reynolds and captain Nathan Peats to finish the half with a 30-12 lead.
The Rabbitohs continued in ruthless fashion, with both Adrian Haangana and interchange forward Brendan McKinnon scoring before the 55th minute. Reyonld's accurate evening with the boot continued to increase the lead to 42-12.
Roberts then snaffled an intercept to run 90 metres for his ninth try in seven Toyota Cup games, before Kennedy Pettyborne and Vai Vai touched down - the Rabbitohs centre received a perfect bounce to dive over out wide.
Canberra restored some pride when five-eighth James Smart, the only player to have featured in every game for the Raiders, stretched out to score.
Rabbitohs' Roberts then went the length of the field in one of the best individual tries of the season - the speedy win pirouetted to escape from the ingoal before tiptoeing down the touchline and racing 110 metres.
Souths' win sees them book a meeting with the Warriors, who overcame the Canterbury Bulldogs 23-16 in last night's preliminary final at Suncorp Stadium.
The Toyota Cup Grand Final will be played at ANZ Stadium next Sunday, as a prelude to the NRL decider. Kickoff is 2:00pm.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 64
Tries: James Roberts 4, Junior Vai Vai 2, Adam Reynolds, Nathan Peats, Adrian Haangana, Brendan McKinnon, Kennedy Pettyborne
Goals: Adam Reynolds 10/11
Canberra Raiders 18
Tries: Matthew McIlrick, Seam Loxley, James Smart
Goals: Chris Medcalf 3/3
at ANZ Stadium