South Sydney’s SG Ball under 18s team is Grand Final bound after defeating the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in today’s (Saturday’s) preliminary final, 14 points to 10 in golden point extra time, at St Mary’s Leagues Stadium.
The extra point thriller was a come-from-behind for Coach Willie Peters’ team who trailed 10-4 at the half time break to score ten unanswered points and earn themselves a berth in 2015 SG Ball Grand Final.
The rain was tumbling down when the teams arrived at St Mary’s but the weather cleared up on kick off, despite still being very heavy under foot.
South Sydney had the ascendency early, hammering away at the Sea Eagles’ line on the back of their powerful forward pack. Fullback Dylan O’Connor made the most of the opportunities presented, scoring in the left corner after a nice backline movement, taking the score to four-nil in favour of Souths after eight minutes.
Manly struck back 20 minutes later when Harrison O’Toole scored in the right corner, levelling the scores at four-all.
Manly took the lead three minutes before half time when Clint Maguire scored a lucky try, a grubber kick hitting the uprights and ricocheting into the in-goal for the try. Luke Polselli converted to give the maroon and whites a six-point advantage at the half time break.
The second half began and the South Sydney forwards continued to make the inroads into the Sea Eagles’ defence, but poor discipline was hurting Souths. If they could keep calm heads they certainly had the momentum to regain the lead, and that’s exactly what happened.
Rather than get intertwined into the push-and-shove from the Manly side, the Souths boys turned their concentration towards their football and they looked dangerous once again.
In the 54th minute of the match, the Rabbitohs forwards rolled up field, giving hooker John Neil a chance to score from a dummy half scoot, and score he did. Centre and captain Siosifa Talakai added the extras from in front to level the scores at ten-all.
Both sides threw plenty at each other over the remaining minutes of regular time, but the scores remained locked at 10-all, despite South Sydney looking to have scored a legitimate try in the left hand corner with just seconds remaining.
The game would go into extra time, golden point, and both sides were primed for a final roll of the dice.
Souths kicked off to Manly and the Sea Eagles worked the ball up field. They took the ball up over the half way line, but the typically brutal defence that had been on display for the previous 71 minutes from the South Sydney pack was in effect again, jolting the ball loose in Souths’ territory.
Lock Cameron Murray scooped the ball up inside his own half and charged into, and through, the Manly defence, winding his way through a handful of defenders before setting sail for the try with a trail of Manly defenders left in his wake.
The South Sydney boys were triumphant, 14 points to ten, and will head to Leichhardt Oval next weekend for the SG Ball under 18s Grand Final.
Keep an eye on www.rabbitohs.com.au for more details on the NSWRL Junior Representative Grand Finals.
South Sydney 14 (Dylan O’Connor, John Neil, Cameron Murray tries; Siosifa Talakai goal)
Manly-Warringah 10 (Harrison O’Toole, Clint Maguire tries; Luke Polselli goal)