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.
« 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.
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
« 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.
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.
South Sydney Rabbitohs, Sydney Roosters, National Rugby League, Alex Johnston, Newcastle Knights, Cody Walker
Actu monde – AU – ‘Can’t feel much worse’: records shattered as Rabbitohs rout Roosters