Returning Rabbitoh, Matt King, made his return to the pitch a memorable one this afternoon in Auckland – the veteran picking up a try to help his side defeat defending Nines champions the Cowboys by 19-12.
The two halves proved to be chalk and cheese as the Cowboys proceeded to dominate proceedings early, while the Rabbitohs confidently dominated the second half.
With his very first touch of the ball, Chris Grevsmuhl powered his way over from dummy-half – overpowering three Cowboys defenders to open the scoring out wide. Adam Reynolds added the extras to make it 6-0.
The Cowboys hit straight back through Gavin Cooper who took a kick across field to plant the ball down over the stripe. The side then doubled their points when Robert Lui set up Justin O’Neill for a try out wide to make it 8-4 in the Cowboys’ favour.
The North Queenslanders got the ball straight back when their kick-off bounced before crossing the dead-ball line for a line drop-out. Justin O’Neill was again the beneficiary, crossing in almost identical fashion to his first try to make it 12-6.
It was a case of déjà vu from the ensuing set when the ball was again allowed to bounce before going dead. But the sides would ultimately go to the break at 12-6.
On the resumption, the Rabbitohs seemed to go up a notch with Dylan Walker and Issac Luke combining to make plenty of metres before George Burgess scored a characteristic five-point try from close range. Adam Reynolds converted to make it 13-12 in favour of the red and green’s.
After making a meal of two kick-offs in the first half, the Rabbitohs returned serve when their own kick-off was allowed to bounce and go out, but Souths were unable to take advantage.
Then different generations linked up in the Rabbitohs back-line with Aaron Gray creating an opportunity for the returning Matt King, who strode over for what will be a memorable four-pointer for King. Reynolds converted to make it 19-12 to round out the match.
The victory means the Rabbitohs finish day one of the tournament undefeated and currently top the Waiheke pool.
Rabbitohs 19 (Chris Grevsmuhl, George Burgess, Matt King, tries; Adam Reynolds 3 goals)
Cowboys 12 (Gavin Cooper, Justin O’Neill 2, tries; goals)