The Rabbitohs continued to gain momentum in Game 2 of the Auckland Nines, with a 19-12 victory over then-reigning champions, the North Queensland Cowboys on Day 1 of the competition.
Two team changes were made by Michael Maguire after the Rabbitohs’ victory earlier in the day against the Penrith Panthers.
Uncapped Rabbitohs, Chris Grevsmuhl and Aaron Gray, entered the side for the clash against the Cowboys in place of Kyle Turner and Setefano Taukafa, demonstrating the rotation tactics that would be required to keep players fresh throughout the tournament.
The encounter between the two teams proved to be an affair consisting of two vastly differing halves. Despite opening the scoring courtesy of a barnstorming Grevsmuhl run from dummy half, the Rabbitohs were outplayed during the first period of the game.
In attack, the Cowboys dominated with Gavin Cooper scoring from a cross field kick and Justin O’Neill scoring out wide in quick succession, providing the Cowboys with an 8-6 lead after both conversion attempts were unsuccessful.
The North Queenslanders once again received a prime attacking opportunity when they got the ball straight back after their kick-off bounced before crossing the dead-ball line for a line drop-out. Justin O’Neill was again the beneficiary, crossing in almost identical fashion to his first, resulting in a 12-6 score line at half-time.
After the break, the Rabbitohs found another gear, with Dylan Walker and Isaac Luke combining to steal plenty of easy metres before George Burgess barged over for a characteristic five-point try under the posts from close range. Adam Reynolds converted to make it 13-12 in favour of the men in red and green.
With South Sydney leading by one point, young-gun Aaron Gray linked up with veteran, Matt King, to close out the game in style, with King striding over for a four pointer. Reynolds converted to seal the deal with a 19-12 victory.
The win provided the Rabbitohs with a perfect record on Day 1 and secured top position in the Waiheke Pool leading into their clash with the Melbourne Storm on Day 2.