Michael Maguire hailed the character of his South Sydney players after they fought back to beat the Sydney Roosters 34-26 in a see-sawing encounter at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
The Rabbitohs showed they’re still the team to beat in the NRL in 2015 after clawing back a 22-12 deficit to see off their bitter rivals in front of a crowd of 27,298. Coach Michael Maguire said his players needed all their fighting spirit to see off a Roosters side that came from 12-0 down to lead 22-12 midway through the second half to maintain their 100 per cent start to the campaign.
A moment of magic from skipper Greg Inglis was the highlight of an absorbing affair with the Queensland superstar fighting his way out of the end-goal area after picking up a Mitchell Pearce grubber-kick then finding Alex Johnston who raced the length of the field to score.
Maguire said there is a feeling of confidence around the team that has been built around last year’s premiership success but there was disappointment at the way the Roosters were let back into the game.
“The belief is growing in the team and it still is,” Maguire said.
“The players know we were not at our best and have already recognised that. That comes back to the belief factor.
“But the Roosters are a very good team, have two very good halves and a pretty good backfield.”
The 11-minute absence of Adam Reynolds, who underwent a concussion test after his head connected with the knee of Aidan Guerra, saw Souths lose their way as the Roosters ran in three quickfire tries.
The mini collapse was reminiscent of the 2012 preliminary final defeat by Canterbury when Reynolds went off with a hamstring injury and the Rabbitohs struggled terribly to lose to the Bulldogs.
But Maguire insisted he was not concerned and said the points scored were a result of good play from the Roosters and not entirely down to the loss of Reynolds.
“We lost our way a bit when he went off but we regrouped,” he said.
“I thought he performed well at the back-end of the game … but the (momentum shift) is part of the game.
“I think the Roosters completed at about 90 per cent and when any team does that it will hurt you.
“But we stuck solid and defended our way out of it.”
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said his side’s defensive effort was to blame for the defeat.
“They have had a really good start but we don’t really care,” Robinson said.
“We didn’t win the game today but I thought we had a lot of good stuff in the game.
“There was a lot of stuff we did well. But there was a lot of stuff that was unacceptable at the Roosters as well. To let some of those tries in on the goal line, that doesn’t happen.”
“Moments are really important in games. Some players took theirs and some players let it go.”