Souths won an elimination final 30-14 in front of a crowd of 39, 816 at Allianz Stadium on Sunday, ending the Roosters’ 2022 hopes in one of the most chaotic games in recent memory.
WATCH IN THE VIDEO ABOVE: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves’ ‘ordinary act’
Watch the latest sport on Channel 7 or stream for free on 7plus >>
The Rabbitohs will play Cronulla at Allianz next Saturday but may be counting the cost of one of the most spiteful battles in this bitter old rivalry.
Prop Tom Burgess is unlikely to play against the Sharks next week after an eventful afternoon.
He knocked Roosters captain James Tedesco out of play with a high shot 18 minutes in and got sin-binned for similar shot on Matt Lodge 60 seconds later.
The England international then failed his own head injury assessment when his head was slammed into the ground by Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in the second half which drew criticism from Souths coach Jason Demetriou.
“We are talking about concussions in the game, but if a player wants to hold somebody who is defenceless and slam his head into the ground – where’s the responsibility on the player?” Demetriou said.
“It’s an ordinary act and I think the game has to come down hard on it.
“You know what you are doing when you slam a bloke’s head into the ground, I just think as a player you have got to have some respect for the opposition.
“If you don’t, then who are you?”
Winger Taane Milne was sin-binned once in each half – both for high shots – and prop Tevita Tatola spent 10 minutes on the sidelines.
Souths were down to 11 men in the first half with Burgess and Milne off but were able to take a lead of 12-8 into half-time courtesy of tries from Alex Johnston and Latrell Mitchell.
“The reality is that when you go down two men the concentration goes up,” Demetriou said. “We came up with some pretty big try-saving tackles.”
On the other side of the battle, Tedesco’s absence was a costly blow although fill-in winger Joseph Suaalii was impressive in the No.1 role.
Their two first-half tryscorers Angus Crichton and Daniel Tupou were ruled out with a concussion and a groin injury respectively at halftime and it didn’t help that lock Victor Radley joined Milne in being sin-binned in each half.
The first of the seven sin-bins – a record in the NRL era – was for a meek punch aimed at Milne after just five minutes.
WATCH IN THE VIDEO ABOVE: Full match highlights as sin-bin chaos reigns
While referee Ashley Klein was happy to play on, the bunker intervened to send the combative Roosters No.13 to the sin-bin.
Radley got another spell after an altercation with Tatola while Waerea-Hargreaves was sent to cool off after slamming Burgess into the turf in the second half.
“I thought we descended the game (into chaos) – both teams,” said Roosters coach Trent Robinson.
“I thought Ashley and the bunker handled the game as they should but I feel like we – both teams – force their hands.
“The tone was set then (when Radley was sin-binned) and then the incidents that were going to be sin-bins was set.
“That’s an incident that could’ve been played on from and that was the start of it (the chaos).”
Robinson had urged the Roosters fans not to boo Mitchell in back-to-back weeks but they continued on Sunday.
The fullback showed some nice touches, even taking the unusual step of kicking on zero tackle to pin the Roosters back in their own end as they hurtled up to smother him.
That became a footnote in a chaotic afternoon with Souths extending their lead after the break through Johnston and Jai Arrow.
Nat Butcher hit back for the Roosters with a well-worked try on the right edge before Isaiah Taas put the result beyond doubt with a jinking run to keep Souths’ finals hopes alive.