After being sidelined for over two months as a result of a calf injury, Latrell Mitchell made a triumphant return to the rugby field. His exceptional performance helped secure a 32-18 victory for South Sydney against Wests Tigers at Scully Park in Tamworth on Friday night. A particular highlight saw Mitchell successfully complete 14 runs over a distance of more than 160 metres and seven tackle busts. This also included a stand-out, try-saving tackle on Junior Tupou and an attempted field goal before half-time.
The South Sydney star was also notable for a play during the second half of the game. On this occasion, Mitchell took control of a grubber kick from Luke Brooks, evading John Bateman before masterfully side-stepping Starford To’a and overpowering Brooks. His performance not only thrilled the 11,000-strong crowd who had gathered in Tamworth but also brought a beaming smile to his own face.
Mitchell’s calf received continuous massage during the half-time break, which indicates that he will likely be in optimum condition for South Sydney’s upcoming match against Cronulla in Perth next week. Rabbitohs‘ coach, Jason Demetriou, expressed his appreciation for Mitchell’s talent, stating after the match, “He came up with some big plays and big moments; he’s one of the best players in the game for a reason, and we saw glimpses of that tonight. The most exciting part is he’s going to keep getting better, which is good.”
Despite their win, the Bunnies were only marginally ahead of the Tigers on the scoreboard with 20 minutes of play remaining. A key turning point in their favour occurred with Keaon Koloamatangi’s charge, followed by three successive dropouts. This convinced lead up led to Alex Johnston securing his third try in the left corner.
The Rabbitohs sealed their victory when Cameron Murray stormed across the line a few moments before the final whistle. Nonetheless, a potentially disturbing incident saw Davvy Moale involved in a shoulder charge against Shawn Blore, resulting in both players engaging in a verbal exchange. A second head injury assessment rendered Blore unfit to continue, while Moale stayed on the field. This prohibited the Tigers from utilising their 18th-man concussion substitute.
Cody Walker caused a brief moment of panic in the South Sydney camp as he clutched his left wrist early in the second half, but managed to complete the game. Meanwhile, teammate Campbell Graham was seen wincing several times as he stoically played through an existing sternum injury.
Jai Arrow, alongside Murray and Tom Burgess, put on a commendable display off the bench. Demetriou also commended Jed Cartwright for his performance. Despite their defeat, the Tiger put up a strong fight, with captain Api Koroisau proving a key player.
To conclude the game, Souths came out victorious, with Mitchell coming through unscathed. The team then took a charter plane straight back to Sydney, with their sights now firmly set on their next game in Perth.