A relentless South Sydney side have flexed their premiership muscle by destroying a hapless Newcastle 52-6 at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
On the same day the Knights lost key playmaker Jarrod Mullen for the season, the Rabbitohs recorded their biggest ever victory over Newcastle, surpassing last year’s 40-point rout in Cairns.
The win consolidates the Rabbitohs’ spot in the top four, while Newcastle’s loss, their 12th in 14 games, all but ends their faint finals hopes.
Skipper Greg Inglis and Alex Johnston both bagged hat-tricks, centre Dylan Walker recorded a double and hooker Issac Luke ran rampant behind a dominant Souths pack.
If it wasn’t for Adam Reynolds’ off-night with the boot – he nailed just six goals from 10 attempts – the Rabbitohs would have surpassed their biggest ever win at ANZ stadium.
An upset initially looked to be on the cards when Knights prop Kade Snowden crashed over untouched in just the 2nd minute.
But it took only three minutes for their dream start to turn into a nightmare, as Rabbitohs centre Dylan Walker finished off a 60-metre blindside play that also saw opposite three-quarter James McManus’s night end with concussion.
The early setback seemed to flick the switch for the defending premiers, with Johnston burning Chanel Mata’utia in the 10th, John Sutton offloading for Inglis in the 15th and then Bryson Goodwin going over on play one of a scrum win in the 23rd.
Co-owner Russell Crowe was watching on from the stands and the only opponent the Rabbitohs seemed to be playing was the clock.
The carnage continued when Inglis stretched out to nab his second try in the 27th. Walker notched his brace in the 33rd, before Inglis celebrated his hat-trick in the 40th by bringing out his goanna celebration.
By the end of a first half, the Rabbitohs led 36-6.
The points somewhat dried in the second half, with Thomas Burgess crashing through in the 49th, Johnston soaring over Mata’utia in the 59th and then Walker effecting his own hat-trick in the 73rd.