Thunderbolts bury U20 Rabbitohs
The Thunderbolts have snapped a two-game losing streak in comprehensive fashion with a runaway 48-14 win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday.
The nine-tries-to-three victory was the Thunderbolts' fourth win in six games and sees them move up two places on the NYC ladder into 12th position on 18 competition points.
In overcast and windy conditions, the Thunderbolts took advantage of an early chance inside their attacking end with winger Cory Parker sneaking over in the corner after three minutes.
Melbourne doubled their lead four minutes later when a cross-field kick bounced kindly for opposite winger Talor Walters, who had little work to do in order to take the score to 8-0.
The Rabbitohs struck back after a Melbourne error gifted them field position and lock Keaon Koloamatangi crashed over from close range to bring the visitors back within two points.
A 40/20 kick by Thunderbolts' utility Caleb Daunt put the home team back on the attack and they soon forced back-to-back sets leading to their third try of the afternoon.
It took a pin-point grubber kick by fullback Jesse Arthars to find Parker who athletically grounded the Steeden for his second try and a 12-6 lead after 21 minutes.
South Sydney narrowed the deficit again when winger Josh Ellison scored in the corner in the 30th minute, before 30-metre bust through the centre by debutant Jacob Boyce set up halfback Matt Egan who strolled over underneath the posts for an 18-10 lead.
Taking the eight-point lead into half-time, the Thunderbolts were first to score five minutes after the break with a Scott Drinkwater try and Arthars conversion taking the scoreboard out to 24-10.
Three minutes later Souths' fullback Bailey Shiach-Wise found space on the Thunderbolts' right edge to give the Bunnies a sniff at 24-14.
However, that was the last of South Sydney's tries as the Thunderbolts piled on four more of their own before the final siren.
Boyce scored underneath the black dot in the 54th minute and a line break to Arthars enabled Josh Kerr to cross the chalk untouched for a 36-14 lead with 19 minutes remaining.
Arthars then bagged a well-deserved try and converted his own handiwork to take the home side past 40 points for the first time since their 60-10 win over the Bulldogs in Round 6.
Centre Jacob Tonge iced the win for the Thunderbolts two minutes from fulltime when he weaved his way through some tired defence to bring the final score to 48-14.
The 34-point win was particularly pleasing for Thunderbolts coach Eric Smith, who was impressed with the way his side applied themselves in the second stanza.
"It probably wasn't really comfortable until we got to the back end of the game, but it was really pleasing with how the guys reacted in the second half," Smith said.
Smith signalled out 19-year-old Boyce, younger brother of fringe Brisbane Bronco Joe, as a standout for the Thunderbolts.
"I was really pleased with Jacob Boyce who made his debut today. We weren't planning on using him for too many minutes but his energy when he came onto the field made me keep him out there longer than I expected," he said.
"He set up one try and scored one himself. He's been waiting a long time to get a crack and I thought he was really good today."
Melbourne Thunderbolts 48 (Cory Parker 2, Talor Walters, Matt Egan, Scott Drinkwater, Jacob Boyce, Josh Kerr, Jesse Arthars, Jacob Tonge tries; Jesse Arthars 6 goals) defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs NYC 14 (Keaon Koloamatangi, Josh Ellison, Bailey Shiach-Wise tries; Chad O'Donnell goal) at Sunshine Coast Stadium. Half-time: 18-10 Thunderbolts.