Accor Stadium: Joey Manu may have done a “Latrell on Latrell”, but Mitchell and his South Sydney teammates had the last laugh in the latest derby.
Souths chalked up their first win of the season to give new coach Jason Demetriou his first triumph in the NRL, while also celebrating Damien Cook’s 150th in style.
The red and green faithful inside Accor Stadium gave them a standing ovation as they triumphed 28-16.
The party officially started when Mitchell collected an inside ball and sprinted 60m down the touchline to score and end any chance of a Roosters comeback with just over ten minutes on the clock.
Mitchell could not wipe the smile off his face when he caught a glimpse of himself on the big screen steaming towards the line. It is hard to remember the last time Mitchell appeared so happy ad content during a game.
He quipped afterwards he was only running at “70 per cent” when he scored. “I was having fun in the backyard, that’s a Matty Bowen try, that’s how he used to do it,” Mitchell said.
Souths had plenty to celebrate on Friday night against the Roosters.Credit:Getty
“All respect to the Roosters, I loved every minute [playing there], but I love being a Rabbitoh.”
Mitchell deserved to let off some steam considering the week-long headlines that focused on his tackle on Joey Manu when the pair met back in round 24 last season.
Manu suffered facial fractures while Mitchell was given a six-week ban.
The pair insisted there was no bad bood and they had kissed and made up.
But when Souths coughed up the ball on the second tackle in the second half, Manu was able to step inside and then score a try before slamming the ball down within inches of Mitchell’s head. It was the same aggressive yet defiant act Mitchell did to Fletcher Baker last year.
Billy Slater certainly picked up on the eerily similar try celebrations and said on Nine: “Joey has done a Latrell on a Latrell.”
Manu stared down Mitchell before letting out a loud roar. The softly-spoken Kiwi rarely shows such emotion.
Apart from Manu’s rare outburst, and a Jared Waerea-Hargreaves head nudge on Souths halfback Lachlan Ilias just before half-time, both clubs were on their best behaviour.
The football did all the talking in this one. And what another top-quality game so early in the season.
While Mitchell’s try will get a decent spin on the highlights reel, as well as Manu’s ball slamming, and Keaon Koloamatangi’s no-try – and a decent second-half whack by Taane Milne on Sitili Tupouniua – Cameron Murray was the one who picked up man-of-the-match honours.
Murray was nothing short of sensational as he scored the first try of the night and set up another two. He sliced through some soft defence from Victor Radley and Sio Siua Taukeiaho in the eighth minute.
Demetriou said of Murray: “That’s why he’s the captain of the team. The last two weeks he’s done exactly what we know he’s capable of. What we know is he has a massive impact on our team as well.”
He then scooped up a sloppy Tedesco short ball to Billy Smith from a 20m restart and sent Alex Johnston over for Souths’ second. His final ball for Cody Walker while he had his back turned to the defensive line in the second half looked like a play they had practised all week at Redfern.
Andrew Johns was so impressed with Murray during the TV commentary he rated the lock forward’s game “a nine out of ten – maybe a 10”.
Souths will take great confidence from the win as they prepare for the grand final rematch against Penrith next Friday.
Demetriou lost against Brisbane and then sat through the golden-point heartbreak last weekend in Melbourne.
The man called ‘JD’ will never forget the fact his first win as an NRL head coach against Souths’ most bitter rival. There will be plenty more to follow this year.
It was Souths fourth straight win over their neighbours, something they had not achieved since the 1987 and 1988 seasons, when none of the current Rabbitohs players were alive.
The Roosters struggled to hold on to the ball early as Souths completed their first nine sets. Coach Trent Robinson said his side were too impatient.
Waerea-Hargreaves was booed with his first carry, and jeered as he walked from the field at the end of the night.
This one belonged to Souths. And Latrell. And Captain Cam.
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