It was one of the most exhilarating and tense finishes to a derby clash between us and the Roosters in recent memory. South Sydney half-back Chris Sandow snapped a 51-metre field goal in the seventh minute of extra time to seal a dramatic 21-20 golden-point victory at the Olympic venue.
The following is a 2011 match report from Rabbitohs.com.au.
By Jeremy Monahan
In the Rabbitohs most thrilling win of the season, South Sydney registered their 106th all-time victory over arch rivals, the Sydney Roosters, 21 points to 20 at ANZ Stadium in front of 14,671 Members and supporters tonight (Saturday), in a game that no Rabbitohs Member will forget for a long time.
Billed as the greatest rivalry in Rugby League, an 87th minute Chris Sandow field goal sealed the win for the Rabbitohs in golden point extra time, handing the Rabbitohs their seventh win for season 2011.
The Rabbitohs were under pressure in the first half, with the Roosters dominating field position and applying plenty of pressure to the red and greens line. It was the visitors that crossed first when centre Kane Linnett scored from a Mitchell Pearce grubber kick.
Todd Carney converted to give last year’s Grand Finalists an early lead. The Rabbitohs struck back seven minutes later through hooker Issac Luke.
The Rabbitohs had a repeat set in Roosters territory, and on the second play after the scrum, Luke stepped to straighten up the play and push through a couple of defenders to score adjacent to the posts. Sandows conversion levelled the scores at six-all. The Roosters wrestled back the lead in the 21st minute when centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall scored.
The Roosters maintained the pressure for the rest of the half, with a try-saving tackle from fullback Nathan Merritt in the 31st minute keeping the Roosters within reach.
A 10-6 score line in favour of the Roosters at half time was a fair indication of the field position and possession the teams had in the first stanza, and the Rabbitohs had plenty of hard work to do in the second half if they were to get the two competition points.
The Rabbitohs looked to have stepped it up a gear in the second half and it would only take six minutes for the Rabbitohs to score. Winger Dylan Farrell scored on the right-hand side after the video referee had a few looks at the put-down. Sandows touchline conversion gave the Rabbitohs a two-point lead, but it was not to last long.
Roosters winger Sam Perrett was the next to jump on the see-saw, turning the game back in the favour of his side with his 57th minute try. He slid into the right-hand corner to give his side a two-point advantage.
The Roosters gave away a penalty in the 61st minute close to the right hand upright, with Sandow calmly potting the penalty goal to lock the scores up for the second time in the match.
Three minutes later and tempers flared after a high shot on Sandow. Many of the players on the field headed towards the fight, some getting involved and others trying to break it up. Despite getting the upper hand with the penalty, the Rabbitohs could not capitalise and it was the Roosters who would score three minutes later
It was Sam Perrett again who caused the Rabbitohs left side defence some problems, scoring his second try for the half. Todd Carney converted from out wide to give the Roosters what looked like a decisive six-point lead with about 10 minutes remaining in the game.
The tension was building and when Rabbitohs captain Michael Crocker was knocked unconscious, even the most ardent Rabbitohs supporter could have been forgiven for thinking it would not be their Club’s night tonight.
But his heroic effort to not only walk from the field but to come back out onto the interchange bench typified the spirit with which the Rabbitohs would play the next 17 minutes of this extended match.
The Rabbitohs had a chance to level the scores in the 74th minute, but the ball was kicked out of Nathan Merritts grasp he tried to pounce on a loose ball in-goal. From the ensuing set-of-six from the goal line drop out, the Rabbitohs found some energy and it was John Sutton and Greg Inglis that showed their class to put together the final four-pointer of the match.
The Rabbitohs attacked the right-hand side then swung the ball left. The ball found Sutton who ran the angle to the corner post, held up the defence and turned the ball inside to Inglis who palmed off a defender in the chest, diving over to score. Sandow slotted the conversion from a difficult angle to lock the scores up at 20-all with three minutes to play.
The teams went into golden point, both delivering long, reaching kicks, forcing their opponents to go the full 100 metres or more to try and register points. Sandow was the first to have a missed shot at field goal then the Roosters had a go through Braith Anasta. In the 85th minute of play, Englishman Luke Burgess not only carried three defenders on his back for a 20-metre charge, but also 20,500 Rabbitohs Members as his powerful charge set up a field goal opportunity for the red and greens.
The ball went to Sandow who was pressured, so he dished it off to Merritt, whose attempt dipped just underneath the cross bar, right on half time of extra time.
The Rabbitohs found themselves deep within their territory in the fourth stanza of the match, and all the players were digging their heels in to try and give the South Sydney field goal exponents an opportunity to kick the winning points. South Sydney worked their way just over half way, passing the ball back to Sandow.
He could either try and put pressure on the Roosters by kicking deep and making them travel the 100 metres to score, or he could have a crack at field from 50 metres out. And that’s just what he did.
As Nathan Merritt described it in the dressing sheds after the game:
“He (Sandow) hit it so sweetly!” said Merritt.
The ball sailed towards the uprights, straight as an arrow, but the field goal was not awarded straight away The referees referred the kick to the video referee who checked a number of angles before giving the field referees the go ahead to award the one-pointer and give the Rabbitohs their sweetest victory of the season!
The Rabbitohs rejoiced on the field with their loyal Members in the stands who braved the chilly conditions to be there live to watch their team get the two competition points over their fiercest rivals
The Rabbitohs may not have taken home the Ron Coote Cup tonight (as they did not make up the 11 point differential established by the Roosters in round one this year), they certainly took home the all-important two competition points, and they stay in the hunt for an end-of-season top eight position.