Rabbitohs leave it late to sink Roosters
In what was nothing but another memorable page in rugby league's oldest rivalry, three late Rabbitohs tries have seen the reigning premiers secure an enthralling 34-26 victory over arch-rivals the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium.
When a Shaun Kenny-Dowall try in the 57th minute saw the Roosters extend their lead to 26-18, the Rabbitohs chances of securing the win looked doubtful.
But thanks to a Luke Keary line-break – where the Rabbitohs five-eighth broke through opposite half Mitchell Pearce – that led to a second try for winger Alex Johnston the Bunnies ensured this modern classic would go down to the wire.
Although Adam Reynolds was forced off the field midway through the first half for a concussion test, the Rabbitohs halfback bounced back in a big way when in the 70th minute he broke free of Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves before sending a neat cut out ball to winger Joel Reddy to cross out wide.
An Issac Luke try in the final minute ensured that the Rabbitohs would begin their premiership defence with two wins from two games.
The Rabbitohs started the game very much like they finished it when Dylan Walker crossed in the sixth minute thanks to a very special inside-outside play initiated by teammates Glenn Stewart and Luke Keary to score next to the uprights for a 6-0 lead.
A spectacular 109-metre combined effort between Greg Inglis and Alex Johnston saw the Rabbitohs double their lead in the 13th minute. Inglis, who started working his way up-field just one metre from the dead-ball line, beat Roosters Matthew McIlwrick and Blake Ferguson before passing off to winger Johnston who ran 90 metres down the sideline despite the best chasing efforts of prop Sam Moa to score.
With Reynolds in the sheds to be examined for a heavy knock exactly midway through the first half the Roosters pounced to score three tries over the next seven minutes.
Roosters winger Daniel Tupou, in his 50th NRL game, kicked off the away team's flurry when he finished off a quick backline shift in the corner in the 21st minute.
He would be in the thick of the action again just three minutes later in helping Michael Jennings to his first try of the afternoon. With opposite winger Reddy completely misreading James Maloney's bomb in the lead-up and with the bounce more than complimentary for Tupou, he was able to pass it back inside for his centre to score.
An uncharacteristic error from Souths' Issac Luke created the impetus for Jennings to cross for his second try in the 28th minute when he picked up the hooker's scraps to race away 45 metres and help the Roosters to a 16-12 lead come half-time.
The Roosters carried on from where they left off in the first half when interchange forward Dylan Napa turned nothing into something in the 44th minute. After receiving the ball from a Pearce offload, Napa pinned his ears back and miraculously carried three Rabbitohs over the line to score the first try of his NRL career.
Not to be outdone, Rabbitohs prop George Burgess mirrored Napa's efforts in the 51st minute when he carried three players of his own over the line to get his team back into the game. Burgess's try was the first of three Rabbitohs four-pointers in the final 30 minutes of the game as an early contender for game of the season reached a dramatic climax.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 34 (Alex Johnston 2, George Burgess, Dylan Walker, Joel Reddy, Issac Luke tries; Adam Reynolds 4 goals) def. Sydney Roosters 26 (Michael Jennings 2, Daniel Tupou, Dylan Napa, Shaun Kenny-Dowall tries; James Maloney 3 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Crowd: 27, 289. Half-time: Roosters 16-12.