Supercoach Wayne Bennett says the Rabbitohs’ premiership credentials remain under question despite their 50-10 win over his injury-hit Knights.
Supercoach Wayne Bennett says doubts remain about South Sydney’s premiership credentials despite their 50-10 thrashing of his injury-hit Newcastle Knights at Barlow Park in Cairns on Sunday.
Knights skipper Kurt Gidley admitted his side were “blown off the park” by the Rabbitohs in Newcastle’s biggest-ever loss to Souths before 11,570 fans.
After taking their round-21 home game to the North Queensland centre, Souths led 26-0 at halftime after laying on five tries, and a try to stand-in skipper Greg Inglis just after the resumption stretched their lead to 32-0 to put the result beyond doubt.
With captain and regular five-eighth John Sutton sidelined alongside Sam Burgess, the big win was a vote of confidence for Souths’ coach Michael Maguire’s new halves combination of Adam Reynolds and Luke Keary.
The win puts Souths second on the NRL ladder, two wins behind leaders Manly and ahead of Penrith on for and against.
But Bennett, a seven-time premiership winner, said he wasn’t sure Souths’ simple style of football could finally end their five decade long premiership drought.
“It didn’t work for them last year so it is debatable,” Bennett said.
“They were good today, that is all you can take from it.
“There isn’t a coach in the NRL who doesn’t know how they are going to play.
“They run hard and tackle in numbers.
“If you can’t stop them, there is enough strike power in the team and ability in that team and they have a pretty hardened footy team that have been doing it for two or three years.
“So there is a fair bit of confidence in them when they play like they did today.”
Newcastle, who were missing Jarrod Mullen, James McManus, Akuila Uate, Darius Boyd and Chris Houston, fought back briefly to drag the scoreline back to 32-10 before a late hat-trick to Souths winger Alex Johnston restored their large advantage.
Back-rower Chris McQueen was strong in his return from injury for Souths with hooker Issac Luke named man of the match.
Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire said his forwards led the way.
“Our forwards laid a really good platform. We probably didn’t start as well as we would have liked,”he said.
“But we laid that platform and built that pressure.
“We have found some consistency over the last three weeks.”
Souths face Manly at the SCG in the start to round 22 on Friday night.