The South Sydney Rabbitohs’ NYC side has kept their finals hopes alive by defeating the third-placed Sydney Roosters in their final round clash tonight at Allianz Stadium.
A Sam Manuleleua hat-trick, plus tries to Brock Gray and Tom Hughes, was enough to grab the red and green’s victory after a spirited second half fight-back.
The Rabbitohs started the match well with some strong charges that put them in good attacking position early. But it was a Roosters mistake on the 40 metre line that would eventually gift the red and green’s first points inside the first 10 minutes, when Sam Manuleleua finished off a simple back-line movement to race over and score. Devon Makoare-Boyce failed to convert, leaving the score at 4-0.
After a string of penalties, the Roosters hit back seven minutes later when the attacked the centre of the field, resulting in a run-away try to centre Paul Momirovski under the sticks. Momirovski converted his own try to take the lead for his team by 6-4.
A Rabbitohs mistake 15 minutes from half-time put the Roosters in prime attacking position, and after a string of repeat sets on Souths’ line, fullback Nene Macdonald burst through to score. Momirovski converted from close range to make it 12-4 in the home-side’s favour.
The Roosters were at it again just five minutes later when a bomb towards the corner-post was picked up by Jack Goodsell, who planted the ball just inside the touch-line to make it 16-4 to take the teams to sheds.
On the resumption, Souths attacked the Roosers’ line with intent, putting the home-side under pressure. With the red and green’s just a metre away from try-line, Aaron Booth passed on to Brock Gray from dummy-half and planted the ball over the stripe. Devon Makoare-Boyce converted to make it 16-10.
The Rabbitohs then put themselves firmly back in the match when Manuleleua scored his second of the night out wide thanks to some good running from dummy half from Booth. Wallace Tangiiti failed to add the extras, with the five-eighths attempt hitting the upright leaving the score at 16-14.
The fight-back continued when the Rabbitohs grabbed another four-pointer through Tom Hughes thanks to some brilliant attack putting the Roosters on the back-pedal – taking the lead. Wallace Tangiiti converted from the touch-line to make it 20-16.
But the Roosters would ultimately hit-back when an inside pass to winger Chevi Ellis sent the speedster racing towards another four points. Momirovski added the extras to re-take the lead at 22-20 with nine minutes left until full time.
With three minutes remaining and the Rabbitohs’ season quietly slipping away, Manuleleua was at it again, this time jumping for a bomb right on the try-line to score an try to re-gain the lead at 24-22.
Rabbitohs 24 (Sam Manuleleua 3, Brock Gray, Tom Hughes, tries; Devon Makoare-Boyce 1, Wallace Tangiiti 1, goals)
Roosters 22 (Paul Momirovski, Nene Macdonald, Jack Goodsell, Chevi Ellistries; Paul Momirovski 3 goals)