Rabbitohs roll on against Warriors
A hat-trick to try-scoring machine Alex Johnston has continued South Sydney's late-season surge with the Rabbitohs earning a 36-18 win over the struggling Warriors in a shootout in windy conditions at ANZ Stadium.
The Rabbitohs never really looked in control until they piled on 14 points in the space of seven minutes midway through the second half to kick clear of the Warriors who have now lost seven matches on the trot and could be without Kieran Foran for the rest of the season after the star five-eighth limped off five minutes from full-time.
Miscommunication at the back between Bryson Goodwin and Alex Johnston saw the Rabbitohs fullback come up with a simple error five minutes into the contest which the Warriors duly punished with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck reeling in a deflected pass to score the opening try.
It didn't take long for the Bunnies to hit back and it came from a familiar source as Johnston touched down for his 15th try from his past seven games at ANZ Stadium to get his side on the board.
Souths had their chances to take the lead but an error by Goodwin and a flurry of penalties put the Warriors back on the attack and they made the most of their opportunity with Simon Mannering barging over to make it 12-4.
Having seen his opposite number go over for a try, in-form Rabbitohs lock Cam Murray responded in kind moments later before Reynolds potted a late penalty goal to level the scores right on half-time.
The Rabbitohs looked certain to start the second half in style only for Kyle Turner to be denied by some desperate defence under the posts. It would prove to be a turning point as the visitors marched downfield and were rewarded with a try of their own as Mannering put Tuivasa-Sheck over for his second of the night.
The tit-for-tat scoring sequence continued when Reynolds collected his deflected grubber to cross next to the posts before South Sydney's attack really clicked into gear when a slick inside ball from John Sutton released Johnston who showed more than enough pace to get over the line.
Michael Maguire's men kicked further in front when Reynolds slotted a simple shot at goal moments after he'd hooked a 38-metre effort from directly in front to give the home side an eight-point cushion with 15 minutes to play.
With the result all but secured, the shackles came off for the Bunnies who extended their lead when some razzle dazzle on the last play ended up in the hands of Cody Walker who raced away to seal his side's third win in a row.
There was still time for one more moment of magic when Johnston burnt the defence down the left edge to complete his hat-trick and go past his single-season record of 21 tries in a season set back in 2014, although the celebrations were soured when he limped off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
Rabbitohs 36 (Alex Johnston 3, Cam Murray, Adam Reynolds, Cody Walker tries; Adam Reynolds 6 goals) def. Warriors 18 (Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2, Simon Mannering tries; Issac Luke 3 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Half-time: 12-12. Crowd: 6,213.
Unofficial NRL.com votes: 3 votes: Adam Reynolds, 2 votes: Alex Johnston, 1 vote: Simon Mannering