Fulltime: SOUTH SYDNEY 28 SYDNEY ROOSTERS 10 South Sydney completely eclipsed the hype around Sonny Bill Williams’ return from rugby union with a comprehensive derby win to open the 2013 NRL season. The Rabbitohs, among the favourites for this year’s title, conceded the first try at three minutes but then blitzed the tricolours, winger Nathan Merritt finishing with a hat-trick. Williams entered the contest in the 29th minute but struggled to make an impact until he scored a 75th minute try. Souths’ Sam Burgess and the Roosters’ Michael Jennings were each reported for high tackles, while rabbits fullback Greg Inglis was a steamroller, swatting and bumping off defenders with almost every run of the ball. Halfback Adam Reynolds – whose loss through injury was a key factor in last year’s finals elimination – started tentatively but when he found his rhythm, so did his team. Souths will shorten in premiership reckoning and the Roosters will lengthen after a decisive result.
75 min: Sonny Bill Williams strolls through a yawning gap to dot down for a consolation try, which James Maloney converts. 10-28
62 min: This is officially a carve-up. Sydney Roosters blow another slew of opportunities and South Sydney score at the other end, with winger Nathan Merritt completing his hat-trick. 4-28.
58 min: Aiden Guerra held up after some nice Roosters football. Apparently the referees just yelled at each other after Roy Asotasi took an intercept but was ruled offside. Guerra down with a sore jaw. Sam Burgess did not use a shoulder charge – it was a coathanger! 4-22.
51 mins: George Burgess barges over between the posts, and his brother Sam kisses him on the head. Adam Reynolds has been taken out late afer landing the conversion. Aiden Guerra was the culprit. Referee Chris ‘Clive’ James has a look and it’s play-on. Reynolds now appears to be having trouble with his peripheral vision.4-22.
Halftime: SOUTH SYDNEY 16 SYDNEY ROOSTERS 4. Sydney Roosters centre Michael Jennings is on report for a swinging arm as some opportunism and penalties helped the Rabbitohs lead the first game of the season. New signing Jennings was booked for a swinging arm on Beau Champion, who needed attention, in the 36th minute. Soon after, Chris McQueen crossed for the bunnies’ third try, with the video referees clearing them of obstruction. But Sydney captain Anthony Minichiello argued the new German “spider cam” suspended above field had not got close enough! The Roosters had the better of the first 10 minutes with the Rabbitohs lefted stunned. But some powerful running from Greg Inglis, a run of penalties and dazzling finishing from Nathan Merritt hauled Souths back and it would be fair to say the better team was trailing until the final five minutes of the half.
35 min: The second Souths try did come after a couple of piggyback penalties. The Roosters had their chance – but Marty Kennedy lost the ball over the line. 4-12.
28 min: As Sonny Bill Williams waits to come on, Nathan Merritt scores for Souths again. A bomb is tapped back to him with Greg Inglis and Chris McQueen doing particularly well. Nothing wrong with Reynolds’ goalkicking. 4-12.
25 min: Nothing disappointing about the performance of Greg Inglis tonight. He’s a wrecking ball. Adam Reynolds, on the other hand, seems tentative. Huge Roosters contingent here tonight. 4-6.
10 min: Spoke about 10 seconds too soon as Greg Inglis puts Nathan Merritt over in the corner. Adam Reynolds converts from the sideline. Crowd looks like 32,000 or 33,000. RTS just had a try disallowed because SKD knocked if forwards, FYI 4-6.
9 min: Sydney Roosters looking good on the back of quick play-the-balls and powerful running in the middle. Souths look a bit shellshocked. 4-0.
3 min: That didn’t take long. Adam Reynolds kicks out on the full and James Maloney scores next to the posts, off a rebounded pass. Maloney misses with the conversion. Roosters looking pretty fearsome. 4-0.
Pre-game: Hi everyone. Great night here at Allianz Stadium and the only empty seats will be in the press box, with hacks chasing the Cronulla story. Actually, that’s not right – the crowd is a long way beneath a sellout with the top deck of the eastern stand more than half empty. Luke O’Donnell apparently hurt his calf at training yesterday and is out of the Roosters side.. These days you don’t know if a calf is really a horse.