Evergreen Benji Marshall has turned back the clock to engineer a stunning Rabbitohs fightback against the Titans, showing he will be a key cog in South Sydney’s premiership push.
Marshall scored two tries and had a hand in two others to lead South Sydney to a 40-30 victory over a gallant Titans side.
Marshall, who rose to prominence as a teen at Keebra Park High School, just overshadowed the efforts of David Fifita, who graduated from the same famous Gold Coast nursery more than a decade later.
Elevated to the starting side with Latrell Mitchell on the sidelines, Marshall showed the speed of a younger man, cool under pressure and the audacious skill that made him famous to show the wisdom of Wayne Bennett’s decision to sign him to a one-year deal just a month ahead of his 36th birthday.
Marshall scored two tries and had a hand in setting up two others as the Rabbitohs overcame a 24-10 halftime deficit following Fifita’s hat-trick inside the opening 40 minutes and an early try of the year contender – a 105m effort from the Titans that led to a try to Jamal Fogarty.
After their drubbing at the hands of Manly last week, there was plenty of upside for the Titans, but they will be disappointed at their inability to hold Souths out early in the second half and prevent the loss.
Fifita became the first ever Titans forward to score multiple hat-tricks for the club.Source:Supplied
BENJI WORTH THE RISK
Plenty probably thought Wayne Bennett was taking a massive risk when he signed Marshall just a month ahead of his 36th birthday but the addition of the playmaker has been a boon for the Bunnies.
Despite being initially named on the bench and then slated to start in the centres, Marshall slotted in at five-eighth for the Bunnies and provided the calm, playmaking option the Bunnies needed with Cody Walker shifting to the back in the absence of Latrell Mitchell.
His sublime catch-and-pass led to the Cody Walker try that put the Bunnies in the lead midway through the first half and helped orchestrate a four-pointer for Alex Johnston in a move reminiscent of his 2005 grand final pass for Pat Richards that led to a Wests Tigers premiership.
FIFITA WORTH EVERY CENT
When the Titans signed David Fifita to the richest deal in the club’s history, they no doubt hoped he would live up to the hype he was one of the most destructive forwards in the competition.
But he has only raised the bar. With his second hat-trick in Gold Coast colours – this time inside the opening 40 minutes – Fifita showed he was worth every cent for a club that craves success and a dedicated following.
His effort to beat six defenders, one of them twice, to score his second try, gave the Titans not only momentum but the belief they could compete with the Rabbitohs.
The Rabbitohs missed a massive 32 tackles in the opening half but tightened their defence massively in the second term, with Fifita having little room to move.
NO LATRELL, NO WORRIES
The four-week suspension of Latrell Mitchell led most to believe the Rabbitohs would struggle over the next month but Marshall’s magic and the versatility of the South Sydney backline showed they remain real premiership contenders.
Their win over the Titans was the Bunnies’ sixth in succession and while the performance of Marshall grabbed the headlines, the ability of Cody Walker, Alex Johnston and Dane Gagai to shift their roles successfully, showed South Sydney is more than capable of coping without their star fullback.
Johnston, Gagai, Jaxson Paulo and Campbell Graham all ran for more than 100m, while returning Titan Jai Arrow had 120m and 22 tackles in his first match against his old club.
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS 40 (Paulo, Walker, Gagai, Marshall 2, Johnston tries; Reynolds 8 goals) def GOLD COAST TITANS 30 (Fifita 3, Fogarty, Peachey tries; Fogarty 5 goals).
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