Last week Southern Districts fired a warning to the rest of the Shute Shield.
This week, they made a statement.
Souths handed runaway leaders Manly just their second defeat of the season with a 27-25 win over the Marlins on Saturday, burying their Manly Oval hoodoo in the process.
The Rebels have now won six matches in a row to sit fourth, one point clear of Eastwood and two points ahead of reigning premiers Northern Suburbs.
It was an impressive display from Souths’ forwards, with Alex Perez, Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Albert Hemopo scoring their three tries.
Five-eighth Rohan Saifoloi added three conversions and two penalties as Souths produced an outstanding defensive effort even after losing Luke Smart to the sin bin.
Many thought the Rebels would struggle after losing exciting young No.8 Jamason Fa’anana-Shultz to Super Rugby and Paul Asquith to Welsh club Scarlets. But the return of Marcus Carbone, Dewet Roos and a handful of appearances from Waratahs star Jed Holloway have helped Souths turn their season around.
Rebels coach Matt Barr told the Leader last week his side had improved across the park.
We have scored the most points in the competition but our defence has improved as well in the last month. And games and comps are won on defence.Rebels coach Matt Barr
“A lot of stuff we worked through the first half of the year has come together. We made some adjustments to our attack which gave us greater clarity to how we want to attack,” he said.
“We have scored the most points in the competition but our defence has improved as well in the last month. And games and comps are won on defence.
“[Jamason] provided a lot of go forward we needed and the timing was lucky getting Marcus back. Not only is he a great player but also a great leader, filling the role of captain when Paul left.
“We were fortunate when we lost Jamason as well that Jed played a couple of games in the back-row. We got Dewet back and you can see the significant difference around the squad what these experienced guys bring with a lot of their knowledge and confidence within the group.”
Souths host struggling Penrith at Forshaw Rugby Park on Saturday.