Rabbitohs run in six tries to rout the Raiders
State of Origin rivals Greg Inglis and Nathan Merritt flourished in the same side as South Sydney opened up a five-point lead on top of the NRL ladder with a crushing 32-2 win over Canberra tonight.
The classy Rabbitohs scored six tries - three in each half - in steady rain at ANZ Stadium to underline why they are a major title contender.
Souths had Chris McQueen withdraw before the game and their other Queensland Origin forward Ben Te'o limped off after 35 minutes, but nothing could derail the Souths express.
Fullback Inglis, who was one of the Queenslanders who tormented NSW debutant Merritt on Wednesday night, turned in a typically busy performance.
He was one of the first to congratulate and embrace Merritt, after the winger put his Origin travails behind him to score a try in the 59th minute.
Further tries to centres Bryson Goodwin and Dylan Walker rounded off a comprehensive Rabbitohs display.
Canberra's away record for the season slumped to 1-8, as they failed to capitalise on a good start.
Things looked to be going the visitors' way when Jarrod Croker kicked a fifth-minute penalty to open the scoring and Souths appeared to have a perfectly good try to Goodwin rubbed out for a forward pass.
English lock Sam Burgess highlighted a strong personal first-half performance by sliding over the line for a 16th-minute try following some slick footwork from halfback Adam Reynolds.
Three minutes later, Souths were over again as Justin Hunt, who replaced winger Andrew Everingham in the starting side, squeezed over in the corner.
Outstanding hooker Issac Luke darted over from dummy half at the 30-minute mark to extend the Rabbitohs' lead.
Canberra had winger Sami Sauiluma placed on report for a shoulder charge on Jeff Lima in the first half and failed to take advantage of some pressure early in the second.
They also suffered on the injury front with promising centre Jack Wighton failing to come out for the second half.
Merritt said it was an awesome feeling to be back in the winner's circle after the disappointment of Wednesday night.
"It was a tough loss the other night in Origin and I was a bit down from that," Merritt said.
"But the spirits are back up now that I've come back here with Souths and won a game."
He said he wanted to redeem himself after his Origin performance but wanted to prove a point to himself rather than other people.
"It was a matter of getting out there and proving to myself I can step up and play decent again," Merritt said.
"I'm very happy I got a chance to play two days after because the longer it took the more head noise I probably would have."
Souths coach Michael Maguire said he thought Merritt played well and that the biggest positive was the way his men played for each other.
He said McQueen had wanted to play but had taken a knock on the shoulder, while Te'o suffered a cork in his lower leg and Everingham hurt a rib in the warmup.
The Raiders could be without Sandor Earl after he dislocated a shoulder late in the game, while Wighton hurt his groin.
Furner lamented the fact his team was unable to capitalise on their early pressure in each half.
"We didn't build the pressure we would have liked," Furner said.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 32 (S Burgess B Goodwin J Hunt I Luke N Merritt D Walker tries A Reynolds 3 B Goodwin goals) Canberra Raiders 2 (J Croker goal) at ANZ Stadium. Referee: Ben Cummins, Chris James