Full Time
8:05pm Fri September 24, 2021
Finals Week 3 - Suncorp Stadium - Crowd: 26249

Match Overview

South Sydney have thumped Manly by 36-16 at Suncorp Stadium tonight to reach their first Grand Final since their famous 2014 premiership win.

The win sets up a fairy tale finish for supercoach Wayne Bennett who enters his 10th Grand Final and for premiership winning halfback Adam Reynolds, who will both depart the club at season's end.

Souths five-eighth Cody Walker was superb for the Bunnies, scoring two tries and having a hand in several others in another eye-catching display. He was well supported by NSW lock Cameron Murray who was a workhorse and rookie fullback Blake Taafe who has somehow managed to almost fill the gigantic boots of the suspended Latrell Mitchell since coming into the starting side only weeks ago.

Manly were their own worst enemy tonight, making a whopping 9 errors in the first half, which lead to four South Sydney tries and left them with far too much work to do, even for the mercurial Tom Trbojevic who was kept relatively quiet by the Bunnies defence.

The Rabbitohs got on the board first, when centre Dane Gagai got a kick away close to the line which then pin balled off two Manly defenders and was then desperately knocked back by Gagai. Cody Walker then collected the ball off the deck to score early. Rookie fullback Blake Taafe was the surprise goalkicker instead of regular goalkicker Adam Reynolds and converted the try giving his side an early 6-0 lead.

Manly looked dangerous and thought they hit back when Tom Trbrojevic looked to have put his winger Rueben Garrick over to score, however unfortunately for Manly it was called back by the Bunker for an obstruction in the lead up.

South Sydney then sent their lethal left-hand side in motion and it paid dividends when Taaffe hit his winger Alex Johnston with a superb cut out pass for the NRL's leading tryscorer to add to his season tally. Taafe then converted from the sideline to give his side a 12-0 lead after 25 minutes.

Despite having little football, Trbojevic was again a threat and looked to have gone over to finally get his side on the scoreboard, however Manly were again denied by the Bunker when the replay showed the Dally M Medal favourite lost possession at the death.

The Rabbitohs then went further ahead when hooker Damien Cook picked up a stray kick that went to ground. The crafty number nine then threaded a neat deft grubber off the left foot for a flying Cody Walker who scored his second try.

Then just before the break off the back of yet another Sea Eagles error, Souths struck again when Adam Reynolds and Campbell Graham combined down the right-hand side for winger Jaxson Paulo to score and give the Bunnies a commanding 22-0 lead at the break.

Manly desperately needed to score first following halftime and they did, when Kieran Foran and Josh Schuster combined down the left-hand side for Reuben Garrick to score in the corner and then convert from sideline to narrow the scoreline to 24-6 and some hope of a miracle comeback.

South Sydney again made Manly pay for yet another crucial error inside their own half, as veteran half Benji Marshall held up a neat pass for Campbell Graham at the line for the rangy centre to crash over and extend the lead to 28-6.

The Rabbitohs then had one foot in the Grand Final, when winger Jaxson Paulo scored his second try after he collecting a huge Adam Reynolds bomb. The young winger collected the ball running backwards and then looked over his shoulder at the tryline to dive over and send Bunnies fans to heaven.

Manly then scored two late consultation tries, when centre Moses Suli made two excellent line breaks before linking with Tom Trbojevic who scored his 28th try of the season and on the second occasion his winger Rueben Garrick to narrow the score to 32-16 as the game wound down.

Cody Walker and Blake Taaffe then put a cherry on top of the cake, combining with some slick hands to put Alex Johnston over for his second try and into the 2021 Grand Final.

South Sydney and their fans now will sit back and await the winner of tomorrow's match where the Melbourne Storm take on the Penrith Panthers to determine who the Rabbitohs will play at Suncorp Stadium next Sunday.

3. Cody Walker

Walker was superb for the Bunnies, scoring two tries and having a hand in several others in another eye-catching display.

2. Cameron Murray

A workhorse for the Bunnies with 22 runs for 175m. Was a constant threat with his offloads at the line and was tiresome in defence.

1. Blake Taaffe

Has played only 8 first grade games and has somehow managed to fill the gigantic boots of the suspended Latrell Mitchell since coming into the starting side only weeks ago.