The Rabbitohs NYC (under 20s) side has gone down to the Sydney Roosters in Round 1 of the competition this afternoon at Allianz Stadium by 40-20 in a see-sawing affair.
In their first Premiership hit-out of the 2016 season, the David Penna-coached Souths side showed plenty of promise despite the hot conditions and the final result on the score-board.
The Rabbitohs endured an early set-back inside the first seven minutes of play, when centre Damon Goolagong left the field after falling awkwardly in a tackle, reducing the men in Red and Green to 16 men.
Just three minutes after the set-back, the Roosters would score through a centre of their own in the form of Kiah Cooper, who powered his way over out wide to open the scoring for the afternoon. Fullback, Jake Steadman added the extras to make it 6-0 in favour of the Tricolours.
But the Rabbitohs would hit back shortly afterwards when Liam Coleman put a perfectly-timed kick toward the wing of Josh Ellison, who plucked the ball out of the air on the fly to score a brilliant try. The subsequent unsuccessful conversion attempt left the Rabbitohs trailing by two points at 6-4.
The Roosters’ Ryan King would be next to score though when he raced over to score in an almost identical position to Cooper to extend the lead – Steadman making it 12-4 with his conversion.
The ensuing kick-off would see the Rabbitohs put the ball over the dead-ball line on the bounce for the second time in the match, giving the side possession in good field position immediately following the try.
Two repeat sets to the Rabbitohs on the back of two errors from the Roosters would ultimately aid the cause of the Red and Green’s – Brock Gray eventually crashing over from short-range to again reduce the deficit to two points with Chad O’Donnell’s conversion.
But the pendulum was about to swing in Souths’ favour, with front-rower Toby Rudolf stepping his way through the Roosters defence inside the 40 metre line before passing back on the inside to O’Donnell who scored right next to the posts. The five-eighth would add the extras again, leaving the Rabbitohs ahead for the first time in the match by a 16-12 score-line.
With the first half winding down, the Roosters would re-take the lead when Luke Chalker overcame the defence of the Rabbitohs right under the sticks to score – Steadman’s conversion taking the Roosters into the break leading 18-16.
South Sydney struck just eight minutes into the second stanza when Tevita Cottrell reached out to plant the ball over the line out wide to re-take the lead at 20-18.
An arm-wrestle ensued, with the Roosters ultimately gaining an advantage following a penalty against the Rabbitohs in prime attacking position – winger Bernard Lewis coming away with a try for the Roosters to lead 22-20 with 20 minutes on the clock remaining.
Steadman would then add a try to his points tally for the afternoon after a passage of play that saw the Roosters keep the ball alive for a number of phases – Steadman converting his own try to make it 28-20.
With time against the men in Red and Green, the Tricolours began to tighten their grip on the match by taking advantage of a string of opportunities that saw them march up-field. Five-eighth Connor Watson added his name to the score-sheet before Steadman added the extras to take the score to 34-20.
Jarred Anderson rounded out the scoring for the Tricolours when the replacement scored a try of his own a minute before the siren to make the final score 40-20.
Roosters 40 (Kiah Cooper, Ryan King, Luke Chalker, Bernard Lewis, Connor Watson, Jake Steadman, Jarred Anderson, tries; Jake Steadman 6 goals)
Rabbitohs 20 (Josh Ellison, Brock Gray, Chad O’Donnell, Tevita Cottrell, tries; Chad O’Donnell 2 goals)