None better in 115 years: Alex Johnston breaks Souths record as Bunnies smash Tigers and Cam Murray looks set for Origin call-up
- Johnston scored hat-trick as Souths came back from 12-0 down to win by 26
- Winger now has 147 tries for club, beating Nathan Merritt’s old record
- Cameron Murray came through unscathed in early return from shoulder injury
Alex Johnston has become the greatest try-scorer in South Sydney‘s 115-year history after claiming a hat-trick in the Rabbitohs 44-18 win over Wests Tigers.
Johnston starred as Souths fought back from 12-0 down with the proud Indigenous winger taking his career tally of tries of 147.
Nathan Merritt scored 146 tries for the foundation club.
The victory ensured the up-and-down Rabbitohs will enter the State of Origin period with a 6-6 record for the season.
Crucially, Cameron Murray also got through the win unscathed on return from a shoulder injury and he will be named in Brad Fittler’s NSW team on Sunday.
The Indigenous winger wrote himself into the history books during the Indigenous round, beating Nathan Merritt’s old record to become the Rabbitohs’ leading tryscorer
At just 27 years old, Johnston has years of play left in him – and he could set a scoring mark that will stand for a very long time
But the man of the night was Johnston as Accor Stadium turned into a party venue for the La Perouse junior during the NRL’s Indigenous Round.
Aged just 27 and with years still ahead of him, there is every chance Johnston could one day surpass Ken Irvine’s all-time league record of 212 career tries.
And it appears the record of leading try-scorer in the league’s oldest club will be his for some time.
Entering the night equal-second alongside Benny Wearing, Johnston got his first when Cody Walker and Campbell Graham combined to put him into space.
Cody Walker’s form has been a shadow of what it was last year but he got back on track with two tries in the 44-18 blowout
NSW Brad Fittler would have been keeping a close eye on Murray in his early return from a second bout of shoulder surgery. The lock came through fine and should be a Blue again
After going to the break down 18-12, it was Johnston’s show in the second half.
He drew level with Merritt when Souths sent the ball left in the 48th minute, after Jaxson Paulo had performed a crucial one-on-one strip on Brent Naden.
Graham put the Bunnies in front when he went over from dummy-half before offloading for Johnston to score his historic 147th try 12 minutes later.
Graham’s performance was also timely, in a last-minute pitch for the Blues’ vacant centre jersey with Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic both injured.
Make it go away: Luke Brooks’ expression speaks volumes about the Tigers’ effort as they crashed and burned in the second half, getting outscored 32-0
Walker also claimed two tries before Paulo put the icing on the cake with an 82-metre intercept effort in the dying minutes.
It’s a result that leaves the Tigers with just three wins from the opening 12 rounds, and it puts further pressure on coach Michael Maguire.
The Tigers looked so good in the first half before the 32-point collapse, ensuring further torment for Maguire.
Naden looked dangerous on the left edge, while Jackson Hastings, Luke Brooks and Daine Laurie were combining nicely on swing plays in that direction.
But the match changed when Souths were not called back after Taane Milne appeared to knock on with the Tigers on the attack in the 44th minute.
From that point the Tigers barely put themselves in good ball position again, their defence surrendered meekly and their season spiralled further into a point of disrepair.