The Rabbitohs have snatched a 22-20 victory from the Parramatta Eels in the final moments of Round 10 in a thrilling performance from the men in Red and Green to take the KARI Cup.
With a Luke Keary try equalising the match within the final two minutes of play, halfback Adam Reynolds was given one of the highest pressure conversion attempts of his career to win the match. The half made no mistake.
The Rabbitohs began the match with an air of enthusiasm that saw them running with gusto and defending with venom. But ill-discipline and poor handling would put the side under pressure early. Fortunately, their vigour in defence would keep the Eels scoreless.
But despite numerous invitations to the Eels to attack close to the line, it would be Souths who would open the scoring through late inclusion, Michael Oldfield, who finished off a sharp back-line play within 15 metres – Alex Johnston throwing the final long cut-out to make it 4-0 after 15 minutes.
While Reynolds’ conversion attempt took the paintwork of the upright, a penalty to Souths within kicking distance a mere few moments later would see the halfback belatedly add the extras to make it 6-0.
Ill-discipline and handling would continue to hamper Souths’ game – in part thanks to their renewed enthusiasm, but the weight of possession would eventually result in a try to Semi Radradra to make it 6-4 with 12 minutes in the opening half remaining.
Despite having their backs against the wall after some pulverising defence from the Rabbitohs, Radradra would pick up a second try four minutes from the break when he was gifted a pass that would see him race 30 metres virtually untouched to score. Michael Gordon converted to make it 10-6 in favour of the Eels.
A failed final-tackle kick diffusion from Alex Johnston on his own line saw Parramatta have one last throw of the dice before the break – Vai Toutai overpowering three Rabbitohs defenders to take the half-time score to 14-6.
With Souths’ half-time completion rate reading just 56%, pin-pointing areas for improvement for the second half were a no-brainer.
Just four minutes into the second stanza, Radradra made it a hat-trick for the night – the Test winger finishing off a back-line movement before crossing out wide. Gordon converted to make it 20-6.
But the Rabbitohs would hit back following a penalty of their own, with Adam Reynolds deceiving the Parramatta defence before some quick passing saw the ball end up in the hands of Kirisome Auva’a who duly planted it down. Reynolds landed the conversion from the touchline to bring the score to 20-12.
Souths went straight back on the attack after a charge-down, with Carter playing soccer with the ball to keep it alive for Reynolds who seemingly scored thanks to the bizarre movement. But while the on-field referee ruled a try, The Bunker had other ideas – officials deeming that Reynolds had knocked on despite consensus in commentary that a try would be awarded.
After enduring what seemed like an eternity defending on their own line, the Rabbitohs turned things around thanks to a massive break from Inglis – the run eventually resulting in a try to Bryson Goodwin to bring the score to 20-16 with eight minutes remaining.
With the clock winding down and with the game slipping away, Inglis and Keary combined down the short-side to create a try from nothing – Keary racing over in the corner to equalise.
With Reynolds given the conversion to win the game, the sharpest shooter in the game lined up the attempt from some 28 metres out just inches in from touch. The Souths Junior made no mistake to take the game by 22-20.
Rabbitohs 22(Michael Oldfield, Kirisome Auva’a, Bryson Goodwin, Luke Keary, tries; Adam Reynolds 3 goals)
Eels 20 (Semi Radradra 3, Vai Toutai tries; Michael Gordon 2 goals)