The visiting New Zealand Warriors downed the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the NYC by 34-24 at Redfern Oval today.
The Rabbitohs started the game strong and managed to put together back-to-back sets on the Warriors try line before opening the scoring in the fourth minute through Siosifa Talakai who got a hand to a grubber kick, that was waited perfectly into the in-goal by Eli Levido. Jordie Hedges made no mistake with the conversion to give the home-side a perfect start with the score at 6-0.
Despite a strong set after points, the Rabbitohs gave away a penalty from their clearance kick, which invited the Warriors into their own half.
From that set, the Warriors looked as though they would score in the left corner after a brilliant cut-out pass found Tomas Aoake in space.
Outstanding scramble-defence by the Rabbitohs’ right-edge bundled the left-winger into touch, which resulted in a 20-metre tap.
Both teams had attacking chances but lacked the polish required to get over the line.
The Warriors however grew in confidence from the offloads their forwards managed to put together in the middle of the field. This allowed them to play on the back of quick play-the-balls.
The Rabbitohs proved they could spark flair of their own from long range, when a brilliant leap for the ball by Damon Goolagong resulted in a break against the run of the play.
A necessary penalty was given away by the Warriors which gifted two points to Souths’ Jordie Hedges, extending the red and green lead to 8-0 after 25 minutes.
However, the Warriors opened their account for the afternoon only three minutes later when fullback, Bradley Abbey, drifted across field to link up with Tomas Aoake. Aoake out-paced Devon Makoare-Boyce to score in the left corner with Ata Hingano brilliantly adding the extras from outwide.
The Warriors went back-to-back through Marata Niukore, whose elusive footwork on the last tackle, bamboozled the Rabbitohs left-edge defence. Ata Hingano hit the upright from a much easier attempt at conversion, which left the score at 10-8.
A costly mistake by the Rabbitohs in the set after the points, gifted an opportunity to the Warriors just before half-time and managed to convert their chance, through a close range try to Amoni Tufui. Hingano made the adjustments required from his last attempt, slotting the conversion to give the visitors an eight-point lead at half time.
The second half began with plenty of action after a tussle between two players saw both a Rabbitohs and Warriors player being sent to the sin bin. The Rabbitohs however, gained advantage from this as they were awarded the penalty.
Jordie Hedges scored in the 45th minute as a result – again courtesy of a well-weighted Eli Levido grubber. Hedges was unable to convert his try from the sideline, which left the score at 16-12 to the Warriors.
The Rabbitohs built on their momentum when Treyvon Leuluai barged over from close range in the 51st minute – regaining the lead courtesy of a Jordie Hedges conversion, which brought the score to 18-16 to Souths.
Souths widened the margin in the 60th minute when a set play between Liam Coleman and Wallace Tangiiti saw the latter score his first of the match. Hedges continued his form with the boot, which saw the lead grow to past a converted try.
A mistake at the back from the Rabbitohs gave the Warriors a chance in good field position and the visitors managed to capitalise through Semisi Tyrell in the 68th minute. Tyrell looked to be contained by Josh Ellison but the upper-body strength of the left-centre proved too hard to contain. Hingano added another two points to their score which saw them trailing by only two points with the score at 24-22.
Semisi Tyrell bagged himself a double in the 75th minute after a cross-field kick could not be fielded by Ellison. As a result, the ball bounced into the path of Tyrell and the lead was extended by Hingano which took the score to 28-24 with only four minutes remaining in the match.
Aoake sealed the win for the visitors after a simple draw-and-pass by Brad Abbey gave the winger another unchallenged run to the line. Hingano finished the day with five out of six with the boot and took the Warriors lead to 10 points, leaving the final score at 34-24.
The match saw momentum play a big role in the final result. Both sides had chances to seal the game but the late surge by the Warriors proved they had the patience and resilience required to take out the win.
Warriors 34 (2 Tomas Aoake, 2 Semisi Tyrell, Marata Niukore, Amoni Tufui, tries; Ata Hingano 5 goals)
Rabbitohs 24 (Siosifa Talakai, Jordie Hedges, Treyvon Leuluai, Wallace Tangiiti, tries; Jordie Hedges 4 goals)