The NRL is investigating the circumstances which led to the South Sydney Rabbitohs playing with an extra man at one stage against the Broncos on Friday night. Souths blew the Broncos off the park at Suncorp Stadium in a 32-6 thrashing which took them to within two points of the ladder-leaders.
But the win has been soured by the revelation that Souths had 14 men on the field during the second half. The Rabbitohs made a double interchange in the 53rd minute, with Davvy Moale and Jai Arrow coming on for Tevita Tatola and Tom Burgess.
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However Arrow came onto the field before he was supposed to, with the man he was replacing (Burgess) still in possession of the ball. Burgess immediately left the field after playing the ball, but Arrow was already on the field.
It led to Burgess and Arrow taking back-to-back hit-ups, and the Rabbitohs had 14 players on the field for around 15 seconds. The mishap also came while the Broncos had Herbie Farnworth in the sin-bin, meaning the Rabbitohs actually had two extra men on the field.
South Sydney unlikely to be stripped of two points
An NRL spokesperson has confirmed that the league will review the ground manager's report before deciding what action to take against the Rabbitohs. Because the extra man was only the field for a very brief period, the NRL is highly unlikely to strip South Sydney of the two competition points.
The Rabbitohs were already leading 22-6 at the time, and the extra man didn't have an impact on the result. The NRL's head of football Graham Annesley will address the Rabbitohs incident in his weekly briefing on Monday.
Canterbury were sensationally stripped of two competition points for a similar breach in 2009 against Penrith after Ben Roberts, the last replacement player to take the field, scored the match-winning try for the Bulldogs.
When Roberts came onto the field, no one else came off, making him an extra man who scored the match-winning try. The NRL was left with no choice but to take the two points away from the Bulldogs and award them to Penrith.
Campbell Graham scored a hat-trick and Latrell Mitchell got two tries of his own as the Rabbitohs improved to 6-3 with the thumping win in front of 40,102 fans. Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou said afterwards: "Cam (Murray) going into the bin (early in the first half) probably switched us on a bit. We got a bit more resolve about us and the second half was pretty clinical from a defensive perspective."
Graham jumped to the top of the NRL's try-scoring list, his Friday night treble giving him 11 on the season and continuing his push for State of Origin selection in Brad Fittler's NSW side. "He's doing what he needs to do to put himself in the frame for rep honours," Demetriou said. "We just love having him as part of our club."
Graham later deflected the attention, saying: "It's background noise at the moment and I'm trying to keep it as background noise. I know those opportunities will come if I just play good footy for Souths. I've been lucky to cross for a few tries, but it's off the back of the boys running that great shape."
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