Bennett surprised by Bunnies breakout star
SOUTH Sydney set up their own B&B; on Thursday night, and it paid immediate dividends.
Four tries in a stunning 17-minute period early in the second half turned the match on its head.
St George Illawarra had totally outplayed and out-enthused Souths to lead 12-6 at half-time.
But it changed ever so quickly. One, two, three, four - all between the 43rd and 60th minutes. All tries unanswered. Game over.
Souths ran over the top of Saints, who have now lost both games to start season 2018.
And it was young gun Braidon Burns and old head Sam Burgess who starred in the 34-18 win.
Bunnies coach Wayne Bennett was so impressed with Burns he named him at left centre - and shifted Greg Inglis to the right. And it worked, as he was dangerous all night and scored in the 55th minute.
"I thought (Burns) was probably close to our best player," Bennett said.
"I like what he brings. He will only get better. I don't know why he hadn't played much first grade at Souths before."
Burgess scored a try after just three minutes of the second half to kickstart Souths' comeback. He then set up another for Cody Walker before crossing for his second.
"He's one of the best forwards in the game, one of the best forwards that's ever played the game," Bennett said. "He put his stamp on the game, that's what the good ones do."
The B&B pair were unstoppable. Burns ran for 168 metres, Burgess 157.
NSW coach Brad Fittler thinks fullback Gareth Widdop should consider quitting Saints now to join Warrington a season early.
"Maybe it's time to have the conversation," Fittler said.
There were further calls on Friday night for halfback Ben Hunt to move into dummy half, shifting Widdop to the halves and Matt Dufty to start at fullback.
Widdop said, "It's the role I have been given", while Corey Norman argued "I play my best football at five-eighth."
Coach Paul McGregor said he will be selecting Widdop every week.
"Gareth is what we need for this season. He is a big part of our football team, he's our captain and he will be in my footy side," McGregor said.
Walker played under some pressure on Thursday night after NSW adviser Greg Alexander declared the Souths star was being closely monitored for Origin selection.
Walker though didn't seem to care. He was dominant in the second half along with his halfback, Adam Reynolds.
Big Greg Inglis was largely ineffectual on Thursday night through injury.
Inglis held his right arm during the second half and missed several tackles.
The big Queenslander stuck it out though and remained on there until the end.
Inglis needed one try to post his 150th - but he couldn't get there.
"I will go and assess it," Inglis said.
Souths forward Cameron Murray scored a wonderful 50m solo try to continue his State of Origin push.
His back-row teammate, John Sutton, walked up the tunnel injured after 27 minutes and did not return, while Liam Knight was placed on report for a chicken wing tackle on James Graham.
SOUTH SYDNEY 34 (S Burgess 2 B Burns C Graham C Murray C Walker tries A Reynolds 5 goals) bt STGEORGE ILLAWARRA 18 (J Pereira 2 T Lafai tries G Widdop 3 goals) at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium. Referee: Gerard Sutton, PeterGough. Crowd: 10,080.