Wayne Bennett has declared no-one can doubt South Sydney’s ability to beat the best in the NRL’s finals after their record-shattering 60-8 flogging of the Sydney Roosters.
The Rabbitohs demolition of their arch-rivals was one of the greatest attacking performances in the club’s 112-year history, bring up 60 points for the first time since 1937.
Bennett himself claimed it the best attacking display he’d seen as a coach, particularly given it was against a team in pursuit of a third straight title.
But more crucial is the timing.
After being shocked by Canterbury in the penultimate round, Souths will still enter the finals with seven wins from their past nine games.
And after not beating a fellow top-eight side for the first half of the season, they come to October with three – the same amount as next week’s do-or-die opponent Newcastle.
“We don’t know what the future will bring, but nothing they do in the next month will surprise me,” Bennett said.
“It was a quality team we were playing. The back-to-back premiers who’ve had a great season and are in the top four comfortably.
“We took on the Storm, until halftime we had a lead then. We played Parramatta (and beat them 38-0) in the last three or four weeks.
“No one has to ask the question if we can beat teams in the top four – because we can.
“Our challenge is to be that team every week for the next month.”
What also can’t be questioned is Souths’ attacking threats across the park.
Cody Walker is popping up on both sides of the field, routinely looking dangerous linking with Adam Reynolds.
Campbell Graham could suddenly enter the State of Origin debate at centre, while Corey Allan is growing more and more into the fullback role with Latrell Mitchell injured.
And that’s before you consider Alex Johnston, who claimed five tries for the second time in his career on Friday night to go past 100 for the Rabbitohs.
His last three came in the space of five minutes, taking him to the top of the try-scoring charts with a little help from Allan who passed one back to him over the line.
“They were great tries he scored too, Alex Johnston classic,” Bennett said.
“I thought how lucky we were to go with Corey at fullback and Alex at wing, because we were thinking about going the other way at one stage.
“Because Alex is a genuine finisher. And Corey has some great passes in him to link everyone up as well.”