FINALLY back in the NRL after missing much of 2008 and the first two games of 2009 with injury, Craig Wing wasted no time living up to the hype with a starring role in South Sydney’s come-from-behind win over Newcastle at Bluetongue Stadium.
Wing scored two second-half tries after coming off the bench to spark a Rabbitohs’ side that had looked lacklustre in trailing 8-0 as deep as the 57th minute.
The first saw him weave his way through three defenders to kick-start his side’s resurgence while his second – another solo effort from close range – all but ensured a red-and-green victory as they opened up an eight-point lead with 11 minutes remaining.
Fetuli Talanoa and Issac Luke also scored spectacular team tries in the final 20 minutes to give Souths their second win from three starts this season.
But coach Jason Taylor won’t be thrilled with his side’s overall performance, as they were lucky to trail by only eight points at the break.
Newcastle scored two early tries through James McManus and Akuila Uate and could have scored at least two more had fortune favoured them.
McManus was particularly active and found space out wide on numerous occasions, but he grassed his best chance to add another after chasing through a Scott Dureau grubber.
Still, they looked the goods – until the Rabbitohs suddenly hit their stride late in the game to surge over the top of the injury-plagued Novocastrians.
The Game Swung When… Craig Wing split the Newcastle defence with a brilliant run in the 57th minute.
Until then the Rabbitohs had looked meek in attack and seemingly bereft of ideas, but Wing’s breakthrough triggered a scoring avalanche with three more tries in the 60th, 69th and 73rd minutes.
Who Was Hot… Rabbitohs’ utility Wing had a blinder in his return match and proved to be the difference between the two sides, although for much of the game it was Newcastle that looked most likely to trouble the scorer.
Halfback Scott Dureau and winger James McManus were both heavily involved, while impressive winger Akuila Uate was a constant threat with the ball in hand and ran for a massive 234 metres.
Who Was Not… Souths’ fullback Luke Capewell made amends with some solid runs late in the game but suffered from a serious case of the fumbles in the first half.
Had To Be Seen To Be Believed… It didn’t take long for Newcastle to post their first points, going the length of the field in the very first set of the game to score.
Back-rower Cory Paterson off-loaded down the left side to send Adam MacDougall on a long run, the veteran in turn sending James McManus away to score.
Bad Boys… None.
Ref Watch… No complaints from either side for Englishman Ashley Klein and fellow ref Brett Suttor.
NRL.com Best & Fairest… 3 points – Craig Wing (Rabbitohs): Scored two crucial solo tries in the second half to awaken South Sydney from their slumber; 2 points – Scott Dureau (Knights): Set up Newcastle’s two first-half tries and was heavily involved in most of their positive moments; 1 point – Akuila Uate (Knights): Powerful and fast, he proved a real handful with a try and a game-high 234 metres.
Rabbitohs 22 (C Wing 2, F Talanoa, I Luke tries; C Sandow 3 goals) def Knights 12 (J McManus, A Uate, J Sau tries) at Bluetongue Stadium. Crowd: 15,227.