Was that an amazing game or what?! Certainly nerve-wracking at the end, but so very exciting. What a great way to start the season!
Final Score: Roosters: 40 / Rabbitohs: 29
” FIVE months on, and the Sydney Roosters celebrated the fact that not much had changed, while their opponents were complaining about the same thing. Rustiness aside, the grand-finalists have hardly skipped a beat.
”All the boys were just saying before, we felt really comfortable out there, really in control of our game,” halfback Mitchell Pearce said. ”It was a bit nerve-racking for about 15 minutes, when we put ourselves under a bit of pressure. There’s certainly a lot of improvement. I’m sure there’s a big season ahead.”
In the opposing dressing room, coach John Lang was lamenting the same old story.
South Sydney started the season as third-favourites for the premiership, and even with the addition of Greg Inglis showed the same old flaws. Dodgy defence and inconsistent halves will give Lang as much of a headache as his half-time team talk, during which he appeared as if he would spontaneously combust. Yet their effort to almost take the game was immense.
Souths were 22points down early in the first half, and without two key forwards in Sam Burgess and Scott Geddes, both first-half casualties. They shouldn’t have been allowed to get anywhere near the Roosters, yet they did.
”It’s the first game of the season, but we’re doing the same things that we did last year,” Lang said. ”That’s the worst thing. That’s something we’ve got to overcome.”
The match should have been over early, such was the Roosters’ dominance. Both sides had the typical round-one rust, but it was the Roosters who brushed it off first. They struck early and well. Pearce, who spoke during the week of wanting to run the ball, did what you’d expect to set up the Roosters’ first try. He kicked. BJ Leilua and Nathan Merritt clashed for the ball, but Braith Anasta, whose own off-season was full of ”they want me, they want me not” folly, gave the Roosters their first try just days after signing a new deal.
The Rabbitohs were only able to use Inglis sparingly in the first half. But it was his influence which gave the Rabbitohs the response. He sucked in a few defenders from a ball off the back of the scrum, and when five-eighth John Sutton found himself up against a sliding defence, he dummied and produced his own kind of slide to score.
Fullback Anthony Minichiello and Leilua scored within five minutes to take the game away from the Rabbitohs, even before they stuffed up their interchanges. Frank Paul Nuuausala rubbed it in with a try three minutes out from half-time.
After 46 minutes Pearce’s kick found its mark in Sam Perrett.
But then the fightback; four tries in 20 minutes, to Merritt, Inglis, Eddy Pettybourne and finally Sandow, who potted a field goal a few minutes later to give the Rabbitohs the lead for the first time in the contest. The momentum had turned, not for the first time.
Then Tom Symonds, probably the least flashy player on the field, came up with the 24-carat finish, the winning try and then another as the siren sounded.
”The character the boys showed, as a captain it’s great for me. It shows where we’re at as a team,” Anasta said. ”We’ve come a long way.”
But at the same time, not so far at all. ”