The Rabbitohs have defeated the Sydney Roosters by 34-26 this evening (Sunday) in an incredibly tight contest played out in front of 27,289 Members and supporters at ANZ Stadium – opening the Club’s home season with victory over their arch-rivals.
A solid start to the game by the red and greens was countered by some dominant Roosters attack. But a combination of patience, resilience and nous, saw the Rabbitohs fight back from a 16- 12 half-time deficit to come away with a brilliant win.
Five minutes into the match, a brilliant set-play consisting of reverse inside balls from Glenn Stewart and Luke Keary, saw Dylan Walker burst through the middle before stretching out to plant the ball down over the line, opening up the side’s home-season account for 2015 right next to the posts. Adam Reynolds converted to give the Rabbits an early 6-0 lead.
The Roosters looked dangerous in response, and with Souths back-pedaling close to the line, Mitchell Pearce put in an attacking kick that looked certain to achieve a repeat set for the Tricolours.
But the Chooks hadn’t banked on the talents of Greg Inglis – the Souths skipper not only managing to take the ball back into the field of play, but also saw him break through the line before passing on to a flying Alex Johnston. Johnston raced 65 metres to finish what was a near 110 metre effort. Reynolds added the extras to make it 12-0.
As the Rabbitohs continued to assert their dominance, Reynolds copped an accidental knee to the head that saw the halfback go up the tunnel for a concussion test. The Roosters took advantage immediately by scoring a try through winger Daniel Tupou, despite a gallant defensive effort from Inglis. Maloney missed the conversion leaving the score at 12-4 with 17 minutes left in the first half.
The Tricolours were buoyed by the effort, attacking again, this time through a massive torpedo bomb from James Maloney on the last tackle. Joel Reddy couldn’t get under the pill with the winger allowing the ball to bounce before Michael Jennings ended up with the ball to score. Maloney made no mistake this time to make it a two-point ball-game at 12-10.
Jennings was at it again a few minutes later when the Roosters managed to jolt the ball from Issac Luke’s hands for the Test flyer to swoop and race 45 metres to score. Maloney converted short-range to make it 16-12 with 12 minutes in the opening stanza remaining.
With the first half winding down, the Rabbitohs were handed a let-off when the Roosters bombed a certain try before coming within a whisker of another of their own at the other end of the field courtesy of Walker. The visitors finished off the first half with the ascendency though, going to the sheds leading 16-12.
The second half started poorly for the red and greens after Adam Reynolds sailed his final-tackle kick over the touch-line on the full, gifting field position to the Roosters. After another dangerous attacking raid, a repeat-set resulted in Dylan Napa grabbing a barge-over try. Maloney again added the extras to make it 22-12.
Souths needed something to stay in the game, and it finally came half-way through the second half through George Burgess, who ducked under the defensive line at short range to plant the ball down. Reynolds converted to make it 22-18.
Reynolds backed the effort up on the very next set when he kicked a booming forty-twenty to put his side in prime attacking position. Burgess nearly grabbed his second in as many minutes, but the Englishman couldn’t hold onto the ball over the line amid a flurry of Roosters defenders.
The Roosters would be next to score though when Shaun Kenny-Dowall finished off a back-line movement that saw the Kiwi international race over in the corner to make it 26-18.
Luke Keary provided some spark for the red and greens when he broke clean through the Roosters defence on the 40 metre line before drawing in Tuivasa-Sheck and passing on to Alex Johnston, who strolled over for his second of the afternoon. Reynolds added the extras from right in front to make it 26-24 in favour of the Roosters with 18 minutes remaining.
Ten minutes from full-time, in a show of strength and resilience from Reynolds, the halfback threw off multiple Roosters defenders including the larger Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, before linking up with Joel Reddy. Reddy raced over to score a crucial try to make it 28-26 in favour of the red and greens.
With just two points separating the sides, tension was rising, but the Rabbitohs would have the final say in the match when Issac Luke burst over for the final try of the match to sink the Chooks by 34-26 with Reynolds’ conversion
Rabbitohs 34 (Dylan Walker, Alex Johnston 2, George Burgess, Joel Reddy, Issac Luke, tries; Adam Reynolds 5, goals)
Roosters 26 (Daniel Tupou, Michael Jennings 2, Dylan Napa, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, tries; James Maloney 3 goals)