South Sydney’s NYC (under 20s) side have gone down to the St George Illawarra Dragons by 26-24 at the SCG today (Sunday) in the final seconds of the match.
In a match played in wet conditions, the lead changed hands on a number of occasions before a late second try to Luciano Leilua saw the Dragons come away with their first victory of the 2016 season with mere seconds on the clock remaining.
After 10 minutes of to-ing and fro-ing, it was the Rabbitohs who would get on the scoreboard first on the back of sustained pressure in Saints’ own side of half-way.
Rabbitohs Halfback, Liam Coleman, grubbered towards flying-centre Siosifa Talakai who beat the Dragons to the ball to open the scoring. Chad O’Donnell then added the extras from out wide to make it 6-0 in Souths’ favour.
The Saints would hit back some eight minutes later though when hooker Reece Robson seized the opportunity to go himself from dummy-half – the play paying off with a four-pointer. Paora Kemp converted from close-range to equalise at six apiece.
Neither side was clearly dominating proceedings, until a break in centre-field by the Rabbitohs’ Cam Murray eventually saw the ball landing in the hands of winger Tom Perrin, who raced some 40 metres to plant the ball down next to the posts. O’Donnell made no mistake to make it 12-6.
Souths would go on with it following a mishandled bomb by the Dragons inside their own in-goal, with Rabbitohs fullback Latrell Robinson picking up the crumbs to score an unlikely try. O’Donnell made it three from three with the boot to make it 18-6 to take the teams to the sheds.
On the resumption, the Dragons hit back through a rampaging TJ Uele, who touched down after overpowering the Rabbitohs defence. Kemp added the extras to make it 18-12 but the score would only remain that way for a few moments.
With the heavens now bucketing down, the Dragons became more adventurous and Luciano Leilua would finish a long, ad-hoc phase with a try before Paora kicked to equalise at 18 apiece.
The Saints would then take the lead with just over 20 minutes in the match remaining when Izaac Thomspson powered his way over out wide to make it 22-18 – Kemp missing his first conversion attempt of the afternoon.
With 10 minutes left on the clock, a crucial error by the Dragons on their own line in an attempt to diffuse a final-tackle kick saw the Rabbitohs regather before Maia Sands crossed from dummy-half virtually untouched to again equalise the match. O’Donnell made no mistake with his attempt from right in front to steal the lead from Saints 24-22.
The Rabbitohs looked well in control during the closing stages of proceedings, with the David Penna coached side throwing the ball around with confidence despite the slippery on-field conditions. But a late opportunity for the Saints resulted in the Leilua try, securing victory for them men in red and white.
Dragons 26 (Reece Robson, TJ Uele, Luciano Leilua 2, Izaac Thompson, tries; Paora Kemp 3 goals)
Rabbitohs 24 (Siosifa Talakai, Tom Perrin, Latrell Robinson, Maia Sands, tries; Chad O’Donnell 4 goals)