Matt Harris, Queensland Correspondent
South Sydney has snatched a 28-26 victory over the Broncos in controversial circumstances in a pulsating Anzac Day encounter in front of over 44,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium.
With the scores locked-up at 26-all with two minutes remaining, a strip by Ben Hunt on Sam Burgess 35 metres out from the line handed Adam Reynolds a chance to snatch the lead and he did so in cool fashion despite a chorus of boos ringing around the ground in response to the harsh call against the home side.
Regardless of the result, the match was thrilling right to the end and featured a spectacular 15th-minute try to Greg Inglis, beating multiple attempted tackles in a 90-metre solo effort that is sure to be a contender for try of the year.
Souths were the first to cross the chalk after seven minutes when Apisai Koroisau ran onto a Greg Inglis offload after the Rabbitohs' fullback steamrolled his way through Brisbane's defensive line, enabling the young hooker to back-up Inglis's impressive work and dash the remaining 15 metres to slam the ball down next to the posts.
Three minutes later a Lachlan Maranta mistake close to his line invited the Bunnies to attack Brisbane's line again. From the next set, an Adam Reynolds pin-point 'mini' bomb aimed towards the corner managed to pick out rookie winger Alex Johnston who planted the ball down despite attention from opposite number Daniel Vidot. Reynolds missed the sideline conversion to keep the score at 10-0.
The Rabbitohs weren’t done with their lightning start and soon stretched their lead out to 14-0 after a brilliant individual try from Greg Inglis. After gathering a Ben Barba chip kick from 10 metres out, Inglis initially beat four defenders in centre field, and then weaved his way towards the opposite touchline in a marauding run. From that point he found himself with 40 metres left to run and skipped past a desperate tackle from Dale Copley, pinned the ears back, and set course for the corner post, beating a final attempted tackle by Maranta.
The Broncos had barely had any opportunity to take ball past the halfway line, but when they eventually did, in the 26th minute, it led to a try off an Inglis mistake. Dale Copley rolled a grubber kick in the direction of the Rabbitohs' fullback, who propelled the ball forward under pressure from the rushing chase of Copley and Andrew McCullough.
McCullough was the fortunate one who collected the crumbs from Inglis and had little left to do in order to place the ball over the line. Corey Parker's conversion was waved away, keeping the score at 14-4.
Moments later, back to back penalties were the catalyst for the Broncos' second try. Playing at five-eighth, Justin Hodges weaved his way across the field from left to right and delivered a killer cut-out pass to his winger Maranta, who squeezed his way over in the corner to narrow the score to 14-10 in favour of Souths with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
As a result of their two quick-fire tries, Brisbane garnered all the momentum and soon scored their third try after Souths knocked on five metres out from their line. From the resulting set, Matt Gillett lumbered towards the try line and despite appearing like he was fully contained by the South Sydney's defence, he somehow managed to free his arm to place the ball down for a try. Ben Hunt added the extras while Parker was having a spell on the sideline to hand the Broncos an unlikely 16-14 lead in the 35th minute, taking the two point advantage in to halftime.
Brisbane started the second half in the same high-tempo intensity as the final 15 minutes of the first half. The Broncos' two point lead stretched to eight points when McCullough threw a dummy from dummy-half and crashed over the line from close range to earn himself a double. Hunt made no mistake with the conversion, with the score reading 22-14 after 43 minutes.
Breathing space on the scoreboard didn’t last long for the home side, with back to back penalties for Souths helping the visitors hop down the field into prime attacking position. Seconds later, George Burgess muscled his way over the stripe for an easy four-pointer, which was converted by Reynolds taking the score to 22-20 in the 52nd minute.
Souths had all the ascendancy, forcing back to back line dropouts and looking likely to score on several occasions. However, two simple knock-ons by the visitors let the Broncos off the hook, which gave the home side a chance to control proceedings with 14 minutes left.
When Sam Burgess conceded a penalty for a ball strip, the Broncos mounted an attack from 20 metres out. Sensing that the Bunnies were rushing up out of their line in quick fashion, Ben Hunt fashioned a cute grubber kick behind their line and Jack Reed was Johnny-on-the-spot, collecting the Steeden and diving over for Brisbane's fifth try.
Parker missed a relatively easy conversion, handing South Sydney a sniff of snatching the lead back as they only trailed by six points, 26-20 with 11 minutes to go.
With seven minutes left the Rabbitohs struck back with a try to centre Kirisome Auva'a, who received an Inglis ball and crashed over the line. The on-field referee ruled no-try and asked the video referees to check for obstruction. The replay showed contact between Inglis and Broncos' defender Ben Hunt, however the contact was deemed to have no impact on Brisbane's defensive line and the no-try ruling was overturned. Reynolds nailed the conversion to lock the score up at 26-all.
Searching for a field goal Ben Hunt could only find the head of Sam Burgess who charged down the kick and ran up field. The referee then ruled a controversial penalty to Souths after deeming Ben Hunt had stripped the ball away in attempting to make the tackle. The call seemed marginal and despite a chorus of boos by the home crowd, Reynolds steadied himself and added the penalty goal to hand Souths the lead at 28-26 with one minute remaining.
Brisbane's kick-off managed to find the touchline and earn the home side one last attacking chance but despite their best efforts in the dying seconds, Souths held on for a desperate two-point victory, their fourth win of the season.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 28 (A Koroisau, A Johnston, G Inglis, G Burgess, K Auva'a, tries; Adam Reynolds 4 goals) def Brisbane Broncos 26 (A McCullough 2, L Maranta, M Gillett, J Reed tries; Corey Parker 1, Ben Hunt 2 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Half-time: Broncos 16-14. Crowd: 44,122.