This was the match that would turn around the Rabbitohs fortunes against the Canberra Raiders. Our come from behind 26-24 victory in round seven of 2010 would snap a four-game losing streak against the Raiders.
The fightback, inspired Nathan Merritt’s one-on-one strip to score early in the second half, would set the tone for the next four seasons in which the Raiders wouldn’t post a win over us. Tries to Rhys Wesser, Nathan Merritt, John Sutton, Issac Luke and a flying Dave Taylor effort stunned the Raiders on home soil.
The following is a match report first posted on Rabbitohs.com.au.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs mounted an amazing second-half comeback to defeat the Canberra Raiders 26 points to 24 in the nation’s capital on ANZAC Day in front of 13,145 supporters. The Rabbitohs were down 24-6 at half time and fought back to win by two away from home.
The match was very tight early on, with the Rabbitohs defending two sets on their own line in the first few minutes. The Rabbitohs sustained the Raiders’ attacks, and then went on the attack themselves, scoring in the eighth minute through five-eighth John Sutton.
The try was set up by captain Luke Stuart who drew the defence and put Sutton through the hole, who went on to beat three defenders on his way to the line to score under the posts. Issac Luke converted from in front of the sticks to give the Rabbitohs an early six-nil lead.
The Rabbitohs were looking dangerous in their left side attack and Stuart was making metres and breaks up the middle. The Rabbitohs started to drop the ball around the 20 minute mark, with the second quarter a nightmare for the visitors.
The Raiders ran in four tries in the final 20 minutes of the half to Jarrod Croker, Josh Dugan, Joel Thompson and Trevor Thurling, with Terry Campese converting all of them. Dugan’s effort was amazing, touching the ball down millimetres inside the left hand corner post with the rest of his body in the air over the touchline.
The Rabbitohs were making mistakes and the Raiders were capitalising. The Canberra side had the possession and field in their favour and were making the most of the opportunities.
The Rabbitohs were the first to strike in the second half when clever play from winger Nathan Merritt led to a four-pointer. Sutton put up a towering cross-field spiral bomb which was taken by Croker. But Merritt was switched on and made a one-on-one strip, touching down in the right hand corner for the try.
Merritt’s try injected life into the Rabbitohs, the red and greens suddenly playing with much more enthusiasm and vigour. The Rabbitohs started to throw the ball around with confidence and it paid off.
The Rabbitohs made metres on the Raiders’ defence, and deft chip kick by Chris Sandow landed in the hands of Sutton, who offloaded to a trailing Issac Luke. Luke stepped twice to cross in the 54th minute, and Sandow converted to bring the Rabbitohs within eight points.
The Rabbitohs continued to attack, making metres easily into Raiders’ territory. The Rabbitohs were attacking the right on the last tackle, when a long Sandow pass to the left found Colin Best who drew two defenders and offloaded to Dave Taylor. The man mountain charged at the left hand corner to score his maiden try in Rabbitohs’ colours in the 59th minute of play. Sandow converted from the touchline to bring the Rabbitohs within two points.
Eight minutes later, Burgess and Taylor combined to cause some havoc down the left hand side of the field, earning the Rabbitohs a repeat set. From the scrum John Sutton drew the defence and put Rhys Wesser through a gap for the try, giving the Rabbitohs the lead.
The Raiders had opportunities to attack the Rabbitohs’ line, but stout defence forced errors from the Green Machine. The Rabbitohs continued to drive the Raiders back deep into their own territory, and with 48 seconds left on the clock the Raiders had one more chance to attack.
A high tackle from Scott Geddes on Trevor Thurling was put on report with 36 seconds left in the game. The Rabbitohs maintained their straight defensive line and won the game. Merritt’s try sparked the Rabbitohs into life, giving them the impetus to run down the Raiders in Canberra