Stand-in South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou got a taste of revenge against the club that sacked him when he masterminded a 28-10 NRL win over Brisbane on Friday night.
At a cold and wet ANZ Stadium, the Rabbitohs added another layer to Brisbane’s pain in a game that was lucky to be played given the biosecurity breaches of both clubs in the days prior.
And while the drama of the week dominated headlines, the underlying grudge sparked by an ugly coaching swap in which Demetriou was a casualty bubbled to the surface once the whistle blew.
Back in 2018 the ex-Broncos assistant interviewed for the job that was eventually given to former Souths coach Anthony Seibold, who looked in a world of pain in the coaching box on Friday night.
Given the frustrating display by the Broncos it was understandable.
Halfback Tom Dearden and fullback Darius Boyd combined well in attack, each having a hand in the Broncos’ two tries – one of which came for returning forward David Fifita early in the second half.
On the wrong end of a 10-4 penalty count, it all crumbled.
“I’m never one to talk about the referees and there was a couple of decisions there that quite frankly the players, and myself and the other coaching staff were left a little bit bewildered by,” Seibold said.
“It’s certainly not an excuse to why we lost.
“It’s probably the position we’re in, sitting second last on the ladder and 50-50 calls don’t generally go to teams sitting at the bottom of the table.
“I’ll have a look at it but it was very frustrating.”
However, their darkest moments came in defence.
The worst of it happened minutes before halftime when Souths’ replacement forward Mark Nicholls took a quick tap from 10 metres out and cruised through big men Payne Haas, Matt Lodge and Boyd to score.
It was woefully soft defence from the Broncos who had been in the contest before the unforgivable lapse in concentration.
In contrast, it was a composed performance by the Rabbitohs steered by Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds as Wayne Bennett watched on from home.
Souths’ tries were scored by Dane Gagai, Reynolds, Nicholls and Tom Burgess.
More than a year before he is due to succeed as Souths coach, Demetriou will ride the rollercoaster of an NRL mentor for the next fortnight while Bennett is in COVID-hold.
After a comprehensive performance from Souths, Bennett joked in a phone call after the match that he should take another couple of weeks off.
“I spoke to the big fella on the phone afterwards and that’s the same thing he said,” Demetriou said.
“It was very professional tonight I thought. Adam Reynolds and Cody controlled the game really well and were prepared to break them down and take the chances as they came.”
Earlier in the day Bennett was whacked with a $20,000 fine for breaching the biosecurity guidelines, members of Brisbane’s training staff, including club legend Allan Langer, were fined $5000 for attending a private function.
It made for a dramatic match that is set to spill into next week when Brisbane face fifth-placed Canberra.
After Friday’s loss the Broncos now have their worst record after 13 games with just three wins for the season.
Souths, who are sitting seventh on the ladder, will take on North Queensland in Townsville on Saturday before Bennett can return in round 15.