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Bunnies enjoy best NRL start since 1971

No longer anyone's Easter bunnies, South Sydney have made their best start to an NRL season since 1971 with a fourth successive victory.
Bunnies enjoy best NRL start since 1971
by AAP

By Ian McCullough

SYDNEY, March 29 AAP - No longer anyone's Easter bunnies, South Sydney have made their best start to an NRL season since 1971 with a fourth successive victory.

The Rabbitohs went on to win the last of their 20 premierships that year and on the evidence of their Good Friday 17-12 success over Canterbury in front of a record crowd of 51,686, they will go close to replicating that success in October.

With young halfback Adam Reynolds once again looking ready-made for a NSW spot, a powerful pack, and a winger with the finishing power of Nathan Merritt, Michael Maguire's side are looking the real deal.

Maguire also demonstrated his ruthless touch before the game when he made the shock decision to axe skipper Michael Crocker and replace him with Roy Asotasi - who himself was dropped against Penrith last week.

Reynolds was the name on everyone's lips after the game, but his coach was more keen to talk up halves partner John Sutton.

"It's funny everyone talks about (Reynolds) but the bloke next to me has a fair bit to do with that as well," said Maguire.

"We've got two very, very good halves that talk and work hard at the game. Again it's just really about the team and if we keep performing then hopefully the boys get an opportunity at the bigger games, like rep footy."

Sutton was named skipper in place of Crocker and Maguire said it was important for every player, regardless of reputation, to maintain their standard of play.

"Michael understands it's all about the performances each week, I've got a great squad and they judge themselves on how they play," he said.

"Michael's well aware of where he's at with his playing, and he's probably battling a little it with his body at the moment at times throughout games so we just roll selections, similar to what we did with Roy the week before.

"I'm sure he was upset because he's got a lot of pride about his selection but he completely understands."

Tries from George Burgess, Nathan Merritt and Bryson Goodwin sealed the win after Mitch Brown opened the scoring the Bulldogs in her 16th minute.

Ben Barba marked his return to action, after he was stood down due to off-field personal issues, with a try five seconds from time.

The fullback was reasonably quiet up to that point and despite a third loss in four games and a clash with in-form Manly to come next Friday, coach Des Hasler is not too concerned.

"The games we've been involved in have been good games of footy," Hasler said.

"Sides have obviously come in ready to play. It's a reverse compliment I guess. We've got to find ways to win those games.

"I remind you again that it's round four. Where were Canberra halfway through last year? There's a long, long way to go."

Hasler was also satisfied with the performance of Barba and said it would be unfair to expect him to be in red-hot form after such a long break.

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