The South Sydney Rabbitohs have claimed a thrilling 44-40 victory over the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in the Holden Cup, despite a late comeback from the northern beaches-based side.
The Rabbitohs would survive a remarkable late comeback from the visitors to claim the two points and re-join the winners circle after their loss against the Brisbane Broncos in Round 19.
In a match characterised by attacking flair, both sides had opportunities to draw first blood in the early stages of the game, but handling errors close to the line would see the attacking play break down.
It would be the Sea Eagles that would claim the opening points of the encounter, with winger Lucas Price providing the finishing moves on the back of some enterprising attack down the left flank. The conversion attempt from the sideline was unsuccessful, leaving the score at 4-0.
The Rabbitohs were quick to retaliate, as Brock Gray ran a strong line to breach the Manly-Warringah defence and secure first points for his side. Chad O’Donnell made no mistake from in front, adding the extras and setting up a 6-4 score line.
It wouldn’t take long for the home side to extend their lead, as Bailey Shiach-Wise streaked away capitalising on a break from winger, Tom Perrin. Once again, O’Donnell was gifted a simple conversion to set up a 12-4 score.
Manly would be next to strike next, with Nicho Hynes sending Jayden Hocking through a hole out wide. Hynes proceeded to add the extras, reducing the deficit to two points at 12-10.
The points would continue to flow in the opening period of the match, as Brock Gray claimed a first-half double, pouncing on a pin-point grubber kick from Chad O’Donnell. Unlike his opening attempts, the Rabbitohs halfback was unable to secure the extras as the score remained 16-10.
South Sydney’s dominant period in attack would continue as Keaon Koloamatangi made the most of his size to barge over from close-range. The additional two would be added, leaving the score at 22-10 to the Red and Greens.
Continuing his strong performance in the open stanza, Chad O’Donnell would bag himself a try, as the halfback took on the Sea Eagles defensive line before muscling his way over. The Rabbitohs playmaker would have no problem with the conversion, with the scores sitting at 28-10 heading into the break.
On resumption, the Sea Eagles would come out firing with Jaiden Tarrant keeping his side in the game with a four-pointer. Hynes would add the extras as the difference remained two converted tries.
Some brilliant work out of dummy-half from Phoenix Hunt would see the Rabbitohs provide the counter-attack, with the interchange hooker showing blistering pace to score. O’Donnell’s fine form with the boot continued providing a 34 -16 advantage to the home side.
The Sea Eagles would continue their strong start to the second half as Lucas Price bagged his second try of the evening. The score would remain 34-20 as the conversion attempt was waved away.
The blow for blow nature of the second period would continue with Kalani Ili running the ball on the last tackle, showcasing brute strength to find the try line for his side. Once again, easy work was made of the conversion attempt, with the score line extended to 40-20.
It would be the Rabbitohs that would be next to score off the back of some dynamic attack, with Keaon Koloamatangi scoring his second. Unable to convert the try, the score would remain 44-20.
With the game appearing to be all but over, the Sea Eagles would stage a remarkable comeback with Luke Polsellin, Tremaine Brown, Billy Bainbridge and Brad Parker all scoring in the final ten minutes of the match.
Fortunately for the Red and Greens, the unbelievable late effort from the away side wouldn’t prove to be enough, with the young Rabbitohs claiming a thrilling 44-40 victory.
Rabbitohs 44 (Brock Gray 2, Keaon Koloamatangi 2, Bailey Shiach-Wise, Chad O’Donnell, Phoenix Hunt, Kalani Ili tries; Chad O’Donnell 6 goals)
Sea Eagles 24 (Lucas Price 2, Jayden Hocking , Jaiden Tarrant , Luke Polselli , Tremaine Brown, Billy Bainbridge, Brad Parker tries; Nicho Hyne 4 goals)