By Malcolm Andrews
ENGLAND Test forwards Tom and George Burgess turned in five-star performances to help South Sydney to return to the form that won the Rabbitohs last year’s NRL Premiership.
Souths hammered the competition co-leaders North Queensland 31-18 at Townsville last Thursday night. It was an entirely different display to that of the previous fortnight when Souths struggled to post a narrow win over injury-plagued Penrith Panthers before suffering a 28-8 humiliation at the hands of the Manly Sea Eagles. Tom Burgess narrowly edged out twin-brother George for Man of the Match honours against the Cowboys.
The Rabbitohs retain their spot in the top four on the NRL Ladder but face a tough run into the play-offs. And they could lose their key playmaker Issac Luke for three or four matches after the Kiwi Test hooker was charged with a shoulder charge as well as a dangerous (lifting) tackle. Stand-off Luke Keary has also been accused of a shoulder charge. All shoulder convictions now carry a mandatory suspension of at least one game.
Another inspired display by Kiwi international prop Jared Waera-Hargreaves helped save the Roosters from the embarrassment of a defeat at the hands of lowly Parramatta. The Eels shocked the high-flying Roosters when they led 18-4 at the break. But the man they dub JWH and Australian Four Nations backrower Boyd Cordner helped lift the Roosters, who scored four second half tries while keeping the Eels scoreless. One of the tries was to Waera-Hargreaves who bounced away five would-be tacklers to touch down.
His clashes with the Burgess brothers and James Graham in the upcoming Test series in England should be one of the highlights of 2015.
Former Man of Steel Jamie Lyon turned in a sensational display on Sunday, scoring two tries, as Manly snatched a late win over Canberra to keep the Sea Eagles’ play-off hopes alive. Lyon showed why he is still one of the great centres in today’s Rugby League, despite turning his back on Tests five years ago.
RUN HOME TO NRL FINALS
Broncos (36 points): Roosters (away), Rabbitohs (away), Storm (home).
Roosters (34): Broncos (h), Sea Eagles (a), Rabbitohs (h).
Cowboys (34 points): Warriors (h), Storm (a), Titans (h).
Rabbitohs (30): Bulldogs (h), Broncos (h), Roosters (a).
Sharks (28*): Storm (h), Tigers (h), Eels (a), Sea Eagles (h).
Storm (26*): Sharks (a), Knights (h), Cowboys (h), Broncos (a).
Dragons (24): Panthers (h), Titans (a), Tigers (h).
Bulldogs (24): Rabbitohs (a), Knights (a), Warriors (h).
Sea Eagles (24): Eels (h), Roosters (h), Sharks (a).
* Monday’s game in hand
For full match reports of the weekend’s NRL matches, see the new edition of League Express, available digitally at10.00pm this evening.