Viewers have taken aim at an apparent act of bad sportsmanship from Latrell Mitchell, accusing the Roosters star of a “cheap shot” in the loss to the Rabbitiohs.
The defending champions went down 26-16 to the Bunnies in a rain-soaked opening match for both sides at the SCG on Friday night.
However, it was a moment involving Origin centre Mitchell late in the game that sparked fiery scenes between the teams.
Souths fullback Alex Johnston crossed for a try out wide that essentially put the icing on the cake for the Rabbitohs.
Mitchell then sparked a heated exchange between players from both sides after appearing to catch Johnson with an elbow to head, well and truly after he’d already grounded the footy.
Mitchell was then in the thick of the action again just before fulltime after clashing with Dane Gagai.
That incident led to more push and shove between the teams as blood poured down Mitchell’s face.
Viewers took exception to Mitchell’s antics, slamming the representative centre for being a bad sport.
— NRL (@NRL) March 15, 2019
— Read My Lips💋™ (@Effff_U) March 15, 2019
I love Latrell but he threw a sneaky elbow at the end there that he just needs to get out of his game. He's too good for that rubbish. #NRLRoostersSouths
— Tony Webeck (@TonyWebeck) March 15, 2019
Latrel Mitchel is a massive dog! Hits Burgess high then puts an elbow into the head of AJ once he scored. Mitchel is a massive flog! #NRLRoostersSouths
— Steve Wray (@stinga57) March 15, 2019
— Thomasee (@thomasee) March 15, 2019
I don’t care how talented Latrell Mitchell is. He’s a filthy little grub #NRLRoostersSouths
— Hayley Thrupp (@Hayleyyemma) March 15, 2019
— Chris Mac (@ChrisMac1270) March 15, 2019
— Joe Hirst (@JoeHirst5) March 15, 2019
I'm a member of the Latrell fanclub but geez he's giving off a bit of a Kyrgios vibe this half…#NRLRoostersSouths
— David Piepers (@davepiepers) March 15, 2019
The Roosters would eventually leave the SCG licking their wounds after the 10-point defeat to an impressive Bunnies side.
The Rabbitohs were down 12-10 at halftime in their season-opener at the patched-up SCG but made their arch-rivals pay for an error-riddled display that gave Wayne Bennett his first victory as coach.
Adam Reynolds twice set up tries by grubber-kicking into the upright and sealed the victory with a third try assist for Johnston in an eye-catching effort.
Tempers flared not long after the try when Cody Walker pushed Cooper Cronk in the chest after taking exception to some words from the Roosters veteran.
Both teams struggled to control the ball in the slippery conditions, however the Roosters shot themselves in the foot with mistakes deep in their own half.
All up, Trent Robinson’s side only completed just over half their 58 sets.
And while the Rabbitohs still spurned another four opportunities, the weight of possession was simply too much for a gallant Roosters defence.
The visitors took the lead when Campbell Graham beat Cronk’s cover tackle in the 48th minute to kickstart a telling 12-minute spurt.
The Roosters should’ve regained the advantage not long after when Boyd Cordner found himself in the clear, but the ball was dislodged by Sam Burgess.
Walker sealed the win when he pounced on one of Reynolds’ kicks before Johnston put the finishing touches on a statement victory.
Much of the build-up centred on the changes Bennett made to his line-up, including Greg Inglis’ move to the right edge.
However while the Rabbitohs skipper was solid, it was Sam Burgess’ shift to the same flank, together with Cameron Murray’s starting call-up that paid off.
Both players grabbed a try each in the first half, and were influential in what, on first impressions, is quickly becoming a formidable outfit.
The 26 points is the most the Roosters had conceded since going down to Brisbane, formerly coached by Bennett, in May last year.