The South Sydney Rabbitohs have finished their 2017 Auckland Nines campaign with 19-8 loss at the hands of the tournament favourites, the North Queensland Cowboys, at Eden Park today (Sunday).
Despite resting a host of their stars, the Cowboys were able to cruise to victory on the back of Jason Taumalolo, Jake Granville and Kalyn Ponga.
The Cowboys kicked off and put the ball out on the full, giving the Rabbitohs an early chance to attack. But as has been the Achilles heel of South Sydney throughout this tournament, an error on that first set gave the Cowboys the ball back which eventually led to a try to Javid Bowen in the third minute of play.
Two minutes later the Cowboys would score again through Shaun Hudson, establishing an eight-nil lead in the first half.
The Rabbitohs finally had the ball in good field position and young recruit Braidon Burns made the most of the opportunity, running to the right across field until he saw a gap, accelerating through the hole to score.
The Rabbitohs locked up the scores at eight-all early in the second half when Cody Walker carried two defenders over the line to score.
From that point on it was all the Cowboys with Ponga scoring a bonus try and Javid Bowen scoring his second four-pointer to give the competition favourites the 19-8 win.
The Rabbitohs turned in what was arguably their best performance of the tournament against the Cowboys but the result sees South Sydney fail to qualify for the finals of the Nines tournament.
South Sydney will return to Sydney to take on the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles next Saturday night at Campbelltown Sports Stadium in the team’s first full format trial of 2017. Tickets are available by clicking here.
North Queensland Cowboys 19 (Kalyn Ponga bonus try; Javid Bowen 2, Shaun Hudson tries; Kalyn Ponga goal)
South Sydney Rabbitohs 8 (Braidon Burns, Cody Walker tries)
Other Hunua Pool match results:
North Queensland Cowboys 27 defeated Sydney Roosters 15
Canberra Raiders 15 defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 12
North Queensland Cowboys 35 defeated Canberra Raiders 6
Sydney Roosters 14 defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 7
Sydney Roosters 21 defeated Canberra Raiders 0