Roosters overcome Rabbitohs in hard-fought contest as a wild all-in-brawl sparks chaos


Super-subs Brandon Smith and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves have helped the Sydney Roosters avenge last year’s bitter finals loss to South Sydney as they came from behind to down their arch rivals 20-18 on Friday night.

Fireworks were expected in their first NRL meeting since last September’s finals encounter that included a record seven sin-bin offences, and the game featured a wild all-in brawl as Roosters centre Joseph Manu and Souths’ Michael Chee Kam were sin-binned for their involvement in the push-and-shove.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Joseph Manu and Michael Chee Kam sin-binned after wild all-in brawl

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Referee Gerard Sutton controlled the contest well and it wasn’t until the last five minutes when things started to get out of hand.

Manu was attempting to make a cover tackle on Rabbitohs centre Isaiah Tass as he raced for the try-line when he hit him high and forced a mistake, Manu then stood over Tass as he celebrated the play.

The high shot did not go down well with the Rabbitohs players and captain Cameron Murray who ran in and started pushing Manu, Roosters players then joined in and all hell broke loose.

“Joey Manu normally looks like a mild-mannered sort of fellow but you could see, I think, he’s going to get in trouble with the tackle,” Andrew Johns said in commentary for Nine.

Joseph Manu came away from the all-in-brawl with a black eye and blood streaming down his face. Credit: AAP/Channel 9

Manu surfaced from the scrum of players with a black eye and heavy bleeding from his cheekbone.

Murray backed himself when asked about the incident after the game and said he was sticking up for his teammates.

“I let my emotions get the better of me,” Murray said post-game.

“I was just sticking up for my teammate.

“I won’t go and start something, but I will stick up for myself and my teammates, and I felt like it was valid there. That’s why I did what I did.”

Roosters coach Trent Robinson said Manu was attempting another try-saving tackle – like the one he pulled off earlier in the game on Tass. However, Robinson conceded he “got it wrong” this time.

“He (Manu) was trying to make the tackle on Tass that he made the play before (when he saved a try),” Robinson said during the post-match press conference.

Joseph Manu’s high shot on Rabbitohs centre Isaiah Tass that started the chaos. Credit: Fox Sports

“He got it wrong. I think that’s enough, and then running in and then everything that went on after that is what it is.”

The introduction of veteran prop Waerea-Hargreaves and hooker Smith, who nearly didn’t play due to an oblique strain, changed the game when Souths were on top.

The 34-year-old Waerea-Hargreaves had the best yardage figures of any forward with 149 running metres and Smith’s try helped the Roosters claw their way back into the game.

“We had to hold our cool but they changed momentum,” Robinson said post-game.

“But I feel like we dominated from thereon in, there were opportunities around the ruck for ‘Jazz’ (Waerea-Hargreaves) and Brandon.

“It’s ‘Jazz’s’ first game back since a long lay-off – he only got five minutes at the World Cup – and Brandon only just got across the line (to be cleared to play).

“It wasn’t going to be won in the 20 minutes, but we knew the impact was coming.”

Joseph Manu is sent to the sin-bin by referee Gerard Sutton. Credit: AAP

Souths fullback Latrell Mitchell, who was playing his first game since being the victim of racial abuse, had flashes of brilliance despite being booed throughout the game.

A Mitchell penalty on the stroke of half-time gave Souths a 12-10 lead at the break but they were left to rue a missed opportunity when Campbell Graham butchered a two-on-one that would have sent Izaac Thompson in at the corner.

“It was the story of our game, we didn’t ice our chances we left three or four tries we left out there,” Souths coach Jason Demetriou said following the match.

“I think it was seven line-breaks to four and 62 per cent completion rate, but we’ve got to tidy up our ball control.

“We made way too many errors coming out of our own end.”

Former Rabbitohs winger Jaxson Paulo crossed for a late double for the Roosters to seal the game.

Souths could only offer a response in the last minute, with Thompson crossing when both sides were down to 12 players following the sin-binning of Manu and Chee Kam.

With AAP

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