The South Sydney Rabbitohs have met the Manly Warringah Sea-Eagles twice during the 2014 season, with the ledger currently standing at one win apiece – the most recent encounter going to the Rabbitohs.
Round 22 – SCG
Rabbitohs 23, Sea Eagles 4
The Rabbitohs knocked over the then-competition leaders, in a brutal top of the table clash by 23-4 at the Sydney Cricket Ground in front of 27,062 Members and supporters.
In one of the side’s best defensive efforts of the season, the Rabbitohs continually put the Sea Eagles on the back foot throughout the match, while also managing to score some scintillating tries – notching up their fourth successive victory as a result.
But it was Manly who scored first – a penalty to the visitors for Souths laying on the play the ball, allowed the Sea Eagles to attack the Rabbitohs line with Peta Hiku diving over in the corner for the visitors. Jamie Lyon’s conversion attempt fell short, leaving the score at 4-0.
Two back-to-back penalties to the Rabbitohs marched the home-side up-field before a second-man play from Luke Keary allowed Kyle Turner to crash over in front of the Don Bradman stand to open Souths’ account for the night. Adam Reynolds converted from close range to take the lead at 6-4, with 16 minutes gone.
With 16 and half minutes left, the Sea Eagles mounted an attack on the Rabbitohs’ line that seemed would yield the visitors points. But Lote Tuqiri would have none of it – the veteran turning back the clock by intercepting the ball before racing 60 metres before being caught. From the ensuing play, Souths threw the ball out to Kirisome Auva’a who powered his way over to the sound of the elated Rabbitohs faithful. Reynolds converted from near the touch-line to make it 12-4 in their favour.
On the resumption, Souths continued to bash Manly in defence on their own line, keeping them inside their own 10 metre line for much of their sets. But Daly Cherry Evans changed the momentum of the game with a crucial forty-twenty that nearly resulted in points for the visitors had it not been for some desperate defence from Lote Tuqiri, whose one-on-one strip diffused an almost certain try.
From a line drop-out, a well-orchestrated set-play from Souths saw Kirisome Auva’a hit a hole on the 20 metre line, before passing on to Alex Johnston who crossed for the first points of the second half just inside the touch-line. Reynolds’ conversion went across the face of the uprights leaving the Rabbits two converted tries ahead at 16-4.
Some more brilliant defence from Souths saw Daly Cherry-Evans taken over the side-line to gift the Rabbitohs possession in good field position. The defence paid dividends when Sam Burgess was put through a gaping hole right in front of the sticks – the Englishman racing the remaining 15 metres to touch down in front of the Clive Churchill Grandstand. Reynolds added the extras to make it 22-4.
A late Adam Reynolds field-goal scraped over the cross-bar to make the final score 23-4, sealing the Rabbitohs’ fourth straight victory.
Round 2 – Gosford
Sea Eagles 14, Rabbitohs 12
The Rabbitohs went down to the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in a tough encounter at Gosford in round two of the competition.
In a performance that bore little resemblance to the side’s opening round effort against the Roosters, Manly held on to take the game and the two competition points with a Jamie Lyon penalty-goal ultimately proving the difference.
A penalty to Manly deep in their own half allowed Daly Cherry Evans to boot the ball within striking distance, with Cheyse Blair capitalising for the home-side out wide with a four-pointer. Jamie Lyon missed the conversion to make it 4-0 in the Sea Eagles’ favour.
The Rabbitohs enjoyed a number of opportunities on the Manly try-line, but came up short on all occasions – the home-side thwarting each attacking raid early in the tackle-count.
Another penalty to the Sea Eagles within kicking distance gave Jamie Lyon the opportunity to get his side two points further ahead – the skipper calmly adding the points from close-range to make it 6-0 with just under six minutes remaining in the first half.
But a penalty to Souths after an Anthony Watmough swinging arm on Bryson Goodwin put the Rabbitohs squarely back in the match – Sam Burgess bursting through the maroon and white line from inside five metres to score the sides opening try of the match. Adam Reynolds’ conversion attempt hit the upright, taking the sides into the sheds with Manly leading 6-4.
The Rabbitohs were the first to score after half-time when Beau Champion broke through the Manly line on the back of a slick back-line movement. Reynolds atoned for his earlier miss by converting from out wide for the Rabbitohs to take the lead 10-6. Reynolds would get the opportunity to give the red and green’s a six-point buffer shortly afterward with a penalty goal from right in front.
Issac Luke tried to assert his authority on the Manly attack when the Kiwi international put a massive hit on Sea Eagles winger Blair – the winger taking the full brunt of Luke’s fury.
But it was Manly who did the asserting when Jamie Buhrer broke through before drawing Greg Inglis and passing to Daly Cherry-Evans who scored under the sticks to make it 12 apiece with Lyon’s conversion.
With the clock winding down and the threat of golden point looming, both sides traded attempts at field-goal, with Reynolds missing the Rabbitohs’ attempt from 30 metres out.
At four minutes left, the Sea Eagles turned defence into attack by intercepting a pass on a promising Rabbitohs raid. The Sea Eagles were chased down, but Ii got worse for the red and green’s, being penalised for holding down, allowing Jamie Lyon a penalty goal to take the lead.
Souths got the ball back from the ensuing kick-off and looked to score through Joe Picker, but the video referee disagreed, ending the match at 14-12.