The South Sydney Rabbitohs have gone down to an energetic Manly-Warringah Sea-Eagles side by 28-8 at Brookvale Oval tonight (Friday) in front of 15,083 in Round 22 of the NRL.
The Rabbitohs began proceedings with some solid defence – keeping the Sea Eagles deep inside their own side of halfway, and when the red and greens did get the ball, two penalties to the side inside the first five minutes saw Adam Reynolds take the opportunity to kick his side two points ahead.
For Reynolds, the goal was a milestone, with the halfback becoming the second highest point-scorer in Rabbitohs history in all grades.
But the Rabbitohs lead would be short-lived. With the Sea Eagles getting their first real opportunity inside the red and green 10 metre line with eight minutes gone, Jake Trbojevic hit the line before spinning and scoring the first try of the match. Jamie-Lyon converted to give the Sea Eagles a 6-2 lead.
The Sea Eagles went on with the job some six minutes later when Brett Stewart attacked the open side, creating a three on one situation out wide before spiralling a pass out to Peta Hiku for a four-pointer millimetres in from touch. Lyon was unable to convert, leaving the score at 10-2.
A string of penalties and handling errors by the Rabbitohs put the red and greens under immense pressure on their own line, allowing the Sea Eagles to test the visitors. Kieran Foran came within a whisker of scoring after breaking clean through the Manly line, only for Greg Inglis to make a brilliant try-saving tackle to stop the five-eighth just shy of the line.
The pendulum had swung well and truly in the favour of the Sea Eagles, who were showing plenty of exuberance in both attack and defence.
The home-side were seemingly throwing everything they had at the Rabbitohs, and despite some brilliant defence from Souths to deny Manly on a number of occasions, with five minutes left in the opening stanza, Hiku crossed for his second of the evening in similar fashion to his first. Lyon was off-target again to leave the scores reading 14-2.
The Rabbitohs would march their way up-field to test the Manly line on a handful of occasions, but the sides would go to the break with no change to the score.
On the resumption, Glenn Stewart was placed on report for a high-tackle on Steve Matai, allowing the Sea Eagles first meaningful use of the ball inside Rabbitohs territory. But the advantage would prove fruitless.
But poor handling and ill-discipline from the Rabbitohs would ensure that the Sea Eagles would get on the front foot when they were awarded a penalty for offside – Jamie-Lyon kicking his team a 16-2 lead with 27 minutes in the match remaining.
Seven minutes later, after more intense Sea Eagles attack, Peta Hiku brought up his hat-trick by scoring yet again down the flank. Lyon made it 22-2 with his conversion with 18 minutes in the match remaining.
Trbojevic grabbed a double for the Sea Eagles when he powered over from close range before Lyon added the extras to make it 28-2.
Alex Johnston got a consolation try in the final three minutes of the match when he managed to jig his way through the Sea Eagles’ defence out wide – Johnston picking up his 36th try in 38 games. Adam Reynolds made no mistake from the touch-line to make the score 28-8.
Sea Eagles 28 (Peta Hiku 3, Jake Trbojevic 2, tries; Jamie Lyon 4 goals)
Rabbitohs 8 (Alex Johnston, tries; Adam Reynolds 2 goals)