Round 20: Rabbitohs vs Roosters -- Post Match Media

I had made the decision earlier in the season not to post Media threads any longer, but honestly I think we deserve to gloat over this match!

Feel free to post any post match articles, videos or audio here.


Channel 9 highlights:

Foxsports highlights:!787105

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Roosters press conference:!787102

‘Can’t feel much worse’: is this the end of the Roosters’ reign?

Adam Pengilly

By Adam Pengilly

September 25, 2020 — 10.18pm

Trent Robinson accepted blame for the Roosters’ stunning capitulation to a rampant Rabbitohs, insisting his side “can’t feel much worse” after they were embarrassed 60-8 on a record shattering night at ANZ Stadium.

The Roosters will need to become the first team ever to win a competition after conceding 50 points in a single match as South Sydney humiliated their fiercest rivals on the eve of the finals.

Alex Johnston scored five tries for South Sydney, the fourth when Corey Allan selflessly passed the ball to him despite standing across the Roosters’ try line, as the tricolours crashed to their heaviest loss under Robinson.

South Sydney avoided a finals trip to the Hunter with the win, the Rabbitohs’ biggest ever against the Roosters in their 112-year history. It was also the first time the tricolours had conceded 60 points in a match since 2010.

“It hurts a lot,” Robinson said after he gave his players an extended break to start the week. "It’s very embarrassing for us. To go out and perform like that is really disappointing. You can’t feel much worse.

"In the end it’s my job to get the guys ready to play and perform well. And I just didn’t do that. We’ve got to take our medicine. It’s not about looking elsewhere, we didn’t represent it well enough and I didn’t represent it well enough tonight.

It hurts a lot. It’s very embarrassing for us

Trent Robinson

"That’s on me for giving them that time and then not preparing them in that short space well enough. I can’t look elsewhere. I can’t look at the players on the field and say, ‘why didn’t you do this?’ [But] we didn’t become poor footy players overnight.

“There’s not much more to say. We’re really disappointed, embarrassed and we’ve got to do better.”

The result was further soured for the two-time defending premiers with doubts over Jake Friend’s immediate playing future.

The club’s veteran No.9, who is poised to announce a contract extension at the club, was escorted off the field after only three minutes following an accidental head clash with Campbell Graham.

Rabbitohs five-eighth Cody Walker celebrates scoring a try against the Roosters on Friday night.

Rabbitohs five-eighth Cody Walker celebrates scoring a try against the Roosters on Friday night.CREDIT:GETTY

He failed his head injury assessment, his second concussion in the space of a month and will also be assessed for a suspected cheekbone injury.

And the Roosters’ shock thumping has put them on a collision course with minor premiers Penrith if the Eels can beat the Tigers, farewelling Benji Marshall and Chris Lawrence, at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday night.

If the Tigers win, the Roosters will travel to take on the Storm in Brisbane in the opening week of the play-offs.

Friend’s misfortune could barely detract from a scintillating Rabbitohs and Cody Walker’s five-star two-try performance as Wayne Bennett’s architect-in-chief reignited a premiership race most thought was limited to minor premiers Penrith, Melbourne and the Roosters.

We don’t know what the future is going to bring, but nothing they do in the next month will surprise me

Wayne Bennett

“Well, it was a great performance,” Bennett said. "It’s a great club to be a part of and I’ve got to say I’m very humbled to be sitting here as a coach after that performance. We don’t know what the future is going to bring, but nothing they do in the next month will surprise me.

“It’s a huge thing for confidence for the team beating the back-to-back premiers who’ve had a great season and are in the top four comfortably. No one has to ask the question if we can beat teams in the top four – because we can. Our challenge is to be that team every week.”

Having heard Newcastle had left the door ajar to host their sudden-death final with a demoralising loss to the Titans a couple of hours earlier, South Sydney walked straight through it on the back of one of the most mesmerising performances in recent memory.

The Rabbitohs will now host the Knights at the Olympic venue next weekend.

Souths winger Alex Johnston beats Kyle Flanagan to score one of his five tries.

Souths winger Alex Johnston beats Kyle Flanagan to score one of his five tries.CREDIT:GETTY

Friend, who was inching closer to a first State of Origin jumper, will be assessed in coming days with the tricolours already without grand final starter Sam Verrills and Victor Radley (both ACL tears).

Asked about his hooker’s cheekbone, Robinson said: “He’s OK. He’s got to get it checked. We’ll see how that it is. He’s sore, but I can’t give you much more than that to be honest.”

Eight days ago Bennett’s side was so awful they sent the wooden spoon to Brisbane. This week they were so good they blew the NRL benchmark and title favourites off the park before half-time and stuck the knife in after the break.

Allen remarkably helped Johnston equal the Cowboys’ Kyle Feldt atop the leading try-scorers’ standings. A couple of minutes later Johnston would surpass him with his 20th try of the year.

“I’ve seen a lot of things in football,” Bennett said. “But I don’t know if I’ve seen anything as unselfish as that. If you don’t think they know the stats you’re kidding yourselves. [Moments like that] make sport great.”

SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS 60 (Alex Johnston 5, Cody Walker 2, Campbell Graham, Corey Allan, Cameron Murray tries; Adam Reynolds 10 goals) defeated SYDNEY ROOSTERS 8 (Josh Morris, Daniel Tupou tries) at ANZ Stadium. Referee: Gerard Sutton. Crowd: 7958.


Flyers grabs five as brilliant Bunnies humiliate premiers

Nick Walshaw, Travis Meyn , The Daily Telegraph

September 26, 2020 6:48am

Cathy Freeman will always own September 25 at ANZ Stadium.

But, geez, you can now give second to Alex Johnston.

In a photo from Cody Walker, too.


Exactly 20 years after Freeman famously won Olympic 400m gold at Homebush, fellow indigenous stars Johnston and Walker marked the anniversary in spectacular style.

Specifically, with Johnston bagging five tries.

Yes, FIVE.

Alex Johnston has jumped to the top of the NRL tryscoring tally with 20 for the season.

While Walker, meanwhile … well, he scored two, orchestrated five more and didn’t so much invoke that infamous Book of Feuds as bash Roosters players about the head with it.

Truly, the bloke was in everything bar temperature checking Bunnies fans as they came through the gates.

And the numbers?

For the Roosters, the loss is their worst ever under coach Trent Robinson – and the first time they have conceded 60 points in a decade.

Oh, yeah, we can also tell you how no side has ever conceded 50 points in a season and gone on to win the premiership.

Which is some stat.

Made worse too by the fact Roosters heartbeat, No.9 Jake Friend, left the field after just three minutes with a possible cheekbone fracture.

But more on that later.

For this night, undeniably, belongs to the Bunnies.

Cody Walker has produced one of the best performances of the season.


Asked if he had ever overseen a greater attacking performance, coach Wayne Bennett said afterwards: “Not against that quality.

“There’s one or two similar in the career but not against that quality.

“And I’ve gotta say I’m humbled sitting here as a coach after that performance. I don’t know what the next month is going to bring, but nothing will surprise me.”

Especially, you reckon, with Walker.

“He’s got great instinct,” Bennett said of the man who orchestrated the club’s biggest win ever against the Chooks. “And that’s what the great players have.”

Elsewhere, Johnston’s try haul equalled a club record – and one he is already part of after bagging five against Penrith in 2017 – while also making him just the sixth Bunny to reach 100 tries.

The performance also takes this Souths favourite to the top of the NRL tryscorer list, meaning he owes Corey Allan a schooner or three after the Bunnies fullback passed for his fourth when over the tryline himself.

The Roosters were humiliated by their greatest rival, conceding the most points in a Roosters game ever. Picture: Getty Images.


Apart from being thumped on the scoreboard, the Roosters premiership hopes have also taken a hit after Friend suffered a possible cheekbone fracture.

The Friday Night Football blockbuster was just three minutes old when the Tricolours No.9 suffered a serious head knock while attempting a tackle on Bunnies centre Campbell Graham.

Even before leaving the field, there was visible swelling and bruising under the eye of Friend, who could be gone for the season if the cheekbone is broken.

Afterwards, Robinson revealed Friend was set to go for scans while also labelling the worst loss of his NRL coaching career as “embarrassing”.

“You can’t feel much worse,” he said. “It hurts. There’s not much more to say.”


Of course, it wouldn’t be a game of rugby league without that most contentious of technological instruments – The Bunker – also copping a hit.

While it counted for nought by the finish, video referee Ashley Klein came under heavy fire for ruling ‘No Try’ against Campbell Graham in the first half.

While Channel 9 commentator Phil Gould described the decision as “disgusting”, you have to reckon even Bunnies fans had forgotten it by full-time.

Well, almost.

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So, the Rabbitohs CAN win the NRL title this year. And this is the man who will do it


Simon Brunsdon

Cody Walker of the Rabbitohs starred in the huge upset win.Source: Getty Images

It was barely a month ago many pundits were prepared to put a red line through South Sydney’s 2020 premiership chances.

Now, a week out from the finals series, the Rabbitohs have suddenly hit a vein of form that could very well win them their first title since 2014.

And the man who can lead the proud cardinal and myrtle club to glory this time is Cody Walker.

The livewire five-eighth starred as he steered the Bunnies to a shock Round 20 victory over the Roosters on Friday night.

Walker ran for 120 metres and made a whopping 11 tackle busts, two linebreaks and an offload.

He scored two tries of his own and was credited with four assists by Fox Sports Lab, and having four linebreak assists.

Some of his tries had to be seen to be believed and it’s fair to say not many players in the competition could pull it off.

“This bloke is a magician. He has been everywhere tonight,” Michael Ennis said in Fox League commentary.

“He has pulled out all the tricks. He is timing everything to perfection.

“If he’s not the best player in the competition… his performance tonight is as good as I’ve seen from Cody Walker.”

Walker can be the best player in the competition but his inconsistency has sometimes been a knock.

He also made his State of Origin debut last year and was then dropped by NSW after only one game for an average performance.

But it seems South Sydney’s next title could rest on his shoulders.

Greg Alexander has been a huge fan of Walker’s.

And he admitted he was even writing the Bunnies off not to long ago, and even leading into Friday’s game was unsure they could win the competition.

Now he’s convinced they can.

“It was all about South Sydney and whether they could show themselves and everyone else whether they are a genuine premiership chance,” Alexander said.

“They’ve just put 60 on the Roosters. They’ve said tonight that they can win the comp, they’ve got a good enough team to win the premiership.

“I really haven’t thought that about the Bunnies until tonight.”


High five: Johnston and Walker combine to demolish Roosters

Chris Kennedy Reporter

Fri 25 Sep 2020, 11:24 PM

Chris Kennedy

Rabbitohs five-eighth Cody Walker produced the individual performance of the season to help his side stun reigning premiers the Roosters 60-8 at ANZ Stadium on Friday night, with winger Alex Johnston bagging an incredible five tries.

Johnston’s haul included the 100th of his career as he went past club legend Bob McCarthy into fourth all-time on the club try scoring tally. It also made him the top tryscorer of the season with 20, one ahead of Kyle Feldt.

The Roosters will now need to overcome history to push ahead for a third straight premiership with no team ever having won a competition after conceding 50 points in a game.

The horror night included a possible facial fracture to hooker Jake Friend, who went off after just three minutes after a head clash and failed a HIA.

The Bunnies’ total of 60 points was the most they have ever scored against the Roosters in their 112-year rivalry.

It was Walker’s night, with three try assists, two tries and two line breaks in a commanding performance to which the Roosters had simply no answers.

“Cody’s got great instincts, that’s what he plays with and what makes great football players. Nothing has to be structured for him,” said Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett.

“He’s had some great games for us… it was up there with his best.”

The game started well for the Tricolours with Josh Morris powering over in just the fourth minute and he would have had a try assist shortly after when backing up a James Tedesco half break but his offload floated forward.

Despite the no-try, the Rabbitohs looked to be on the rack and struggling to get out of their end until some individual brilliance from Cody Walker turned the tide.

The in-form five-eighth made a clean break from inside his own half in the 14th minute then backed up to finish off a long-range team try, then with his side quickly back on the attack fired a pass for Johnston to break the line and score with some help from Bayley Sironen and suddenly Souths were up 12-4.

They looked to have their third when Campbell Graham took on a short side and crashed over but the Bunker believed there was a tiny bobble in the act of grounding and ruled no try.

It didn’t slow the Rabbitohs down for long as Johnston carved over for his 100th career try then Graham belatedly got a deserved try backing up a Corey Allan clean break and kick ahead to make it 24-4 just past the half-hour mark.

With Souths attacking yet again in the shadows of half time, Luke Keary tackled Mark Nicholls before he received a pass.

The ball bounced off Keary’s shoulder into the Roosters in-goal with Nicholls chasing through to ground it. The play was sent up ‘no try’ due to a perceived knock-on from Nicholls with the Bunker ruling there was insufficient evidence to overturn the decision.

Souths had to settle with two points for the penalty for an off-the-ball tackle and a commanding 26-4 half-time advantage.

Walker sent his team further in front 10 minutes after the resumption, offloading for Allan to score before the Roosters clawed one back when Daniel Tupou touched down off a Keary grubber.

Souths hit back immediately through that man Walker again, who produced a perfectly-timed chase from a Reynolds attacking kick to bag his second try.

Cameron Murray got his name on the scoresheet with a scrappy try, touching down after a Reynolds grubber bounced off a few players then broke the line the very next set for who else but Walker to set up Johnston’s hat-trick.

The team went the length from the next set with Allan unselfishly finishing in the in-goal and handing the ball back to Johnston for his fourth with the Rabbitohs remarkably going the length once again in the next set with Johnston carving over in the corner.

It was the second time Johnston has bagged five tries in a match - the previous coming in 2017.

It that wasn’t enough to the Papua New Guinea international, he also moved into first place on the leading try-scorer list, one ahead of Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt.

The result means the Rabbitohs will host Newcastle at ANZ Stadium in the first week of the finals.

Cody Walker ‘knocking down the door’ of State of Origin call-up ahead of Luke Keary

By George Vlotis

Rugby league legend Peter Sterling believes Souths playmaker Cody Walker is “knocking down the door” to claim the Blues No.6 jersey ahead of Luke Keary, after orchestrating the Rabbitohs biggest ever win over the Roosters on Friday night.

South Sydney rewrote the history books over their cross-town rivals at ANZ Stadium in a stunning 60-8 pre-finals shellacking that left the competition stunned.

While winger Alex Johnston enjoyed the spotlight with a massive five-try haul, special praise was saved for the man who made it possible as Walker ran riot in the Rabbitohs engine room to torment the reigning premiers.

With four assists and two tries of his own, Sterlo believed Walker was peaking at the perfect time and firming as legitimate competition to dislodge Luke Keary from five-eighth Origin contention.

Cody Walker orchestrated a historic win for the Rabbitohs over the Roosters. (Getty)

“I don’t know what I just witnessed,” an awed Sterling told Friday Night Knock-off.

"Cody Walker tonight was 10 out of 10. It’s the best individual performance I’ve seen this year. Cody Walker’s game tonight was as near perfect as I’ve seen.

"The reason I’m saying 10 out of 10 is because I’m accounting for the opposition. And Walker’s one-on-one opposition is Luke Keary who I’ve had penciled in as the blues five-eighth pretty much all year.

"But you can’t put forward any greater credentials than what we’ve seen tonight from Cody Walker.

"If he plays like this through the finals series, he’s knocking down the door. He’s in better form now than what he was going into that [Origin] series last year.

"He was in everything, and the amount of passes that he threw that were involved in tries or led to tries was remarkable.

“He’s a natural footballer, when he’s in the zone it’s a joy to watch.”

With the home and away season done and dusted for both teams, the Roosters will remain in the top four in third, while tonight’s result for the Rabbitohs secures them a home final having finished in sixth spot on the NRL ladder.