On a night when Mitchell scored one of the most dazzling solo tries of the season, pushing good mate Josh Addo-Carr out of the way at the end of a brutal 40m surge, the Rabbitohs edged closer to eight. against a gritty Bulldogs side.
And Mitchell was everything good and just a little bit bad.
He threw one of those passes that only come naturally to the most gifted Junior Tatola to level the scores late in the game and also clipped Addo-Carr across the face which led to the Bulldogs try.
But the sight of Mitchell galloping past the Bulldogs defenders after offloading Kodi Nikorim, intent on destroying anyone in his path, was one of the most brilliant and terrifying sights for any rugby league fan.
Missing NSW regulars Cameron Murray and Damien Cook, Mitchell also threw the final pass for the match-winning try five minutes from time as Alex Johnston scored another Accor Stadium hat-trick. Mitchell didn’t even have to look where his wingman was. A field goal would have been the logical option, but Mitchell had other ideas.
South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou said: “Without Cam and Cooky, we needed Latrell and Cody to step up. Both came up with some pretty big games to try. Again, that’s what you want from your leaders. They will keep building and if they keep doing that we will be in a good place come the final.”
For much of the game it looked like the Bulldogs would deal a huge blow to South Sydney’s finals hopes and they took the lead in the final 10 minutes when Paul Vaughan scored a rare try. They even managed to score a ninety-yard screamer when Declan Casey burst down the field before Jake Averillo raced over.
But that only spurred Mitchell into action as South Sydney scored three tries in the final 10 minutes and injury added insult to injury for the Bulldogs when Addo-Carr limped off in the second half with a hamstring problem.
There was a game on Good Friday with Trent Barrett still coaching the struggling Bulldogs when it looked like they were going to take it to South Sydney and then Jeremy Marshall-King was sin-binned and that was that.
Three months on and interim manager Mick Potter has injected a lot more steel into a club that has slowly clawed its way off the bottom of the table.
Burton was flattered by a message from Mitchell on Instagram last month when the South Sydney superstar pleaded with NSW selectors to keep the super-bot in the squad for a third match before he withdraws.
This time Burton was just flattened by Mitchell. It wasn’t the same haymakers Gagai unleashed on him during the wild Origin decision, Mitchell had just lined up the Bulldogs at five-eighth and pounced right on top of him, with some choice words at the end.
It was the highlight of a first half that began with South Sydney halfback Lachlan Ilias, wearing a black armband in honor of his grandfather Spyros, kicking himself to open the scoring as the Rabbitohs led 16-10 at half-time.
Then it was the Latrell show.
“He’s amazing, isn’t he? He can play,” Potter said. “He’s one of the best. I think we have to keep improving faster and if you keep losing games it’s not enough. I think there is more to this team. I think we can get there but the season is missing games. We need a win every now and then.”
If only Fittler could have Mitchell to help him with that.
SOUTH SYDNEY KINGS 36 (Alex Johnston 3, Lachlan Ilias, Cody Walker, Latrell Mitchell, Junior Tatola tries; Mitchell 4 goals) defeated CANTERBURY BULLDOGS 28 (Braidon Burns, Declan Casey, Joe Stimson, Jake Averillo, Paul Vaughan tries; Matt Burton 4 goals) at Accor Stadium. Referee: Chris Butler. Crowd: 19,126.
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