The South Sydney Rabbitohs recorded just their second finals victory since 1987 in week one of the 2013 finals, overcoming a woeful record against the Melbourne Storm in the process to book a place in the Preliminary Final the last time the two sides met.
Despite some strong play from the Storm, the Rabbitohs went into the sheds leading 14-0 before coming out to record their first win over Melbourne since 2010.
After enduring a barrage of Storm attack in the first eight minutes, remarkably, it was the Rabbitohs who managed to score first in their first real attacking opportunity when Dylan Farrell capitalised on a Storm loose ball. Adam Reynolds converted from the sideline to give the red and greens an early six points to nil lead.
With half of the first stanza gone, the Melbourne Storm’s ill-discipline began to piggy-back the Rabbitohs up-field, eventually culminating in Adam Reynolds being given the chance to extend the home-sides lead by two points.
Souths continued to look sharp from the ensuing set, while the Storm looked uncharacteristically flustered, the sentiment proven when Billy Slater lost the ball after taking a towering South Sydney bomb to give the Rabbitohs another throw of the dice.
Souths made the very most of it on the back of yet another penalty when Jeff Lima hit a short ball at speed to slam down adjacent to the posts for his first try in the red and green. Adam Reynolds converted to extend the lead to 14-0.
The Storm were given an opportunity with just under ten minutes remaining when Roy Asotasi was placed on report for a suspected crusher tackle. The Storm used up all their opportunities and came up short though despite a valiant effort from Sisa Waqa to ground the ball off the back of a Cooper Cronk kick – the video referee ruling against the try on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
Melbourne were unperturbed though, continuing to put the Rabbitohs under pressure with consecutive repeat sets, but the red and green wall of defence held strong, with some brilliant efforts across the park to amazingly take the Rabbitohs into the sheds leading 14-0.
It took 15 minutes for the teams to draw more points, and when they finally did come, it was through Billy Slater, Cameron Smith adding the extras to narrow the gap to eight points.
The Storm were denied a try despite building plenty of pressure, and the Rabbitohs capitalised at the other end of the field when Issac Luke took a Greg Inglis ball on the burst before stretching out as far as his arm would go to touch down next to the posts.
With ten minutes left, the Storm mounted a promising attacking raid down the touchline culminating in Sisa Waqa attempting to pluck a high ball from the air. With Waqa and Dylan Farrell both attempting to diffuse the situation, contact in the air resulted in Waqa landing on his head. Farrell was placed on report.
With a penalty from the Waqa incident in hand, the Storm capitalised with Will Chambers scoring out wide to make the score 20-10 with just under eight minutes remaining.
But the effort was enough for the Rabbitohs to book their way into week three of the 2013 NRL Finals Series.
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