The game of the round was first up in round nine of the NRL as the South Sydney Rabbitohs hosted the Melbourne Storm in a battle at the top of the table as both sides tried to stay in touch with the peerless Penrith Panthers.
Souths are currently third in the table within two of the league leaders while Storm are fifth, two points behind the Bunnies and in the full knowledge that win of any description would lift them into second spot and get themselves within two points of the early season leaders.
The Storm inflicted the Rabbitohs only defeat of 2021 back in March and both coaches made numerous changes to last weeks side as they sought the two points.
Alex Johnston thought he was in on five, with a spectacular dive into the corner, but referee Atkins ruled it was a forward pass from Cody Walker.
Melbourne had better luck on twelve when Josh Addo-Carr chased down a delightful Justin Olam grubber kick and grounded with the heel of his hands. Cameron Munster smashed his kick across the face of the sticks, the visitors leading by 4-0.
Addo-Carr slid over the line for his second, tackler Dane Gagai attached to his ankles, after he took a Nicho Hynes pass. Munster was able to add the conversion, ten from the touchline, and after twenty-four minutes it was 10-0 to the Storm.
The Fox completed his twenty-five-minute hat-trick when he took a Grant one-handed pass ten from the line to dive over in the corner. Munster was unable to add the touchline conversion, Melbourne 14-0 ahead but ripping the Bunnies apart down the left-hand side.
Just after the half hour Jerome Hughes was on hand to take a Munster pass following a ball steal on the halfway line, burst through the defence and sprint to the line to score under the sticks. Damian Cook, who lost the ball to Munster, was left in a heap as Munster added the conversion for 20-0.
It was four for Addo-Carr just before the half time hooter when he did well to reach backwards to take a Hynes pass and go twenty metres to score in the corner. Munster added the touchline conversion, in off the far post from the touchline and his side had totally dominated the first half.
Seven minutes after the restart Brandon Smith bust his way through the defensive line and evaded three tacklers to score by the left upright. Munster added the conversion for a 32-0 lead, it was turning into a massacre for the side who started the day in third spot.
Within two minutes Melbourne went over again, this time down the right side with a miss-out pass from Hughes finding George Jennings to dive over in the corner. Munster couldn’t convert from wide.
On sixty, Jennings went in for his second down the blind side taking a looping Hughes pass to dive for the line and ground one-handed. As poor as the Bunnies left side had been in the first half, the right side was now having a nightmare. Munster missed the conversion, Melbourne 40-0 up.
On sixty-seven Addo-Carr finally got another chance and went over in the corner off an Olam pass for his fifth try of the night, the Rabbitohs defender unable to get a hand on him from ten metres out. Munster kicked his fifth goal of the night.
It was six on seventy-two, the first man in 71 years to score six tries at the top level of the game, a carbon try off an Olam pass with the winger flying over. It brought up the fifty without response, South totally dominated. Munster couldn’t add the conversion, his kick rate at fifty percent on the night.
This was a close to the complete performance as you will get from Melbourne Storm who racked up fifty unanswered points against a team above them in the league ladder. It was a stunning evening from Addo-Carr with his record breaking six tries and had Munster been able to land some of the touchline conversion attempts it would have been much worse. Souths will try and banish this from their minds as ‘one of those days’ while Melbourne will want it to live ling in the memory.
South Sydney Rabbitohs: Walker, Johnston, Marsters. Burns, Gagai, Hawkins, Marshall, Burgess, Cook, Tatola, Koloamatangi, Su’A, Arrow. Subs: Nicholls, Knight, Mago, Cartwright. 18th: Sele.
Newcastle Knights: Hynes, Jennings (2T), Smith (T), Olam, Addo-Carr (6T), Munster (5G), Hughes (T), Bromwich, Smith, Welch J, Kaufusi, Bromwich K, Kamikamica. Subs: Grant, Finucane, Asofa-Solomona, Lewis. 18th: Ierima.
Referee: Grant Atkins.
Score Progression: 0-4, 0-8, 0-10, 0-14, 0-18, 0-20, 0-24, 0-26 : HT : 0-30, 0-32, 0-36, 0-40, 0-44, 0-46, 0-50 : FT.