The South Sydney SG Ball under 18s side fell at the final hurdle, going down 24 points to 16 to the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Leichhardt Oval in the NSWRL SG Ball Grand Final this afternoon (Saturday).
The Sharks led 18-6 at the half time break and had to fight off a spirited South Sydney comeback in the second half to win their first SG Ball title in the Club’s history.
The Sharks led 18-0 after tries to fullback William Kennedy, centre Curtis Scott, lock Billy Magoulias and centre Keenan Yorston.
The Souths boys posted their first points when inspirational skipper Siosifa Talakai crossed one minute before the half time break. Talakai had been dishing out some heavy defence and busting through tackles deep in his own territory, and did the same when he got an opportunity near his opponent’s goal line, bumping off four defenders to score. He converted his own try, taking the score to 18-6 at the break.
If Souths were in first or second gear in the first half, they came out in the second half in fourth gear, getting on the front foot straight away and putting the Sharks under plenty of pressure in the opening exchanges of the second half.
That pressure would not lead to points, however, and it was Sharks winger Josh Tuilagi who would be first to score in the 54th minute of the game. Halfback Jack Williams converted to take the lead to 18 points.
It was at this point that the young Souths team found its fifth gear, with lock Cameron Murray striking back for Willie Peters’ team in the 60th minute. He brushed off three defenders to score adjacent to the posts. Talakai added the extras to reduce the lead to 12 points.
Five minutes later, and with only five minutes remaining on the clock, South Sydney winger Blade Perri made the most of the limited space he had on the left flank, weaving past four defenders to score in the left corner. The conversion attempt was wide, reducing the Sharks’ lead to eight with four minutes left on the clock.
The young Rabbitohs threw everything they had at the Sharks and mounted two more promising raids into Cronulla territory, but the desperation play didn’t produce points and the Sharks would take the title.
It was a fantastic effort for the South Sydney boys to make the Grand Final, having finished the season in seventh position on the ladder.
Congratulations to Coach Willie Peters, captain Siosifa Talakai, and the rest of the under 18s squad on their efforts in 2015.
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 24 (William Kennedy, Curtis Scott, Billy Magoulias, Keenan Yorston, Josh Tuilagi tries; Jack Williams 2 goals)
South Sydney 16 (Siosifa Talakai, Cameron Murray, Blade Perri tries; Siosifa Talakai 2 goals)