In a game marred by multiple errors and penalities from both teams, the Rabbitohs have gone down to the Canberra Raiders 32-18 at ANZ Stadium for Round 21 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.
The ensuing kick-off would see the Rabbitohs rewarded with a drop out, thanks to a stray bounce and some committed defence to pin Raiders fullback Jack Wighton in-goal.
Centre Hymel Hunt looked to score the opening try in his first game back from injury, however this time the bounce of the ball would favour the Raiders.
Hunt would then lose possession again just a few minutes later due to a bad play the ball 20 metres from the Rabbitohs line, however a penalty for Shannon Boyd being offside would relieve some pressure for the Red and Greens.
A charge down by Blake Austin caused Adam Reynolds to lose possession of the ball on the halfway line, and in the next set the Raiders would gain continue to dominate possession after Tyrell Fuimaono illegally tackled Joseph Leilua without the ball.
Canberra would continue to roll through the middle and in the 8th minute captain Jarrod Croker would open the scoring through some quick passing. He then converted his own try.
Poor communication and string of penalties would gift the Raiders another golden opportunity in attack, however this time they opted to extend their lead through a penalty goal in the 16th minute.
A strong bust from Joseph Leilua put the Rabbitohs on the back foot once again, and an Aiden Sezer cross field kick ricocheted off Robert Jennings’ foot into the hands of Joseph Tapine, who crossed next to the posts just four minutes later. Croker would then make it 3 goals from 3 attempts.
The score nearly extended further with the Raiders sweeping the ball to the right side of the field, however a stray ball allowed fullback Alex Johnston to streak 40 metres up field, which relieved some much needed pressure.
With the Rabbitohs back on the attack, errors and pinpoint kicking from Adam reverted the pressure back onto the Raiders, and Cody Walker was able to open their account by regathering his own kick to score in the 26th minute.
Unfortunately, just minutes later momentum was lost after a loose carry from Damien Cook allowed the Raiders to reset their attack 30 metres from the Rabbitohs line, and the ill-discipline continued with Fuimaono again giving away a penalty.
With the Raiders parked in the Rabbitohs’ red zone, a Kurt Baptiste kick from dummy half forced a dropout, and on the next set some miscommunication saw Nick Cotric find the line, and with the conversion from Croker, the Raiders were up at 14 by the break.
The second stanza began with some up tempo footy, and the Rabbitohs’ intent to compete was highlighted by a strong hit by Hymel Hunt on Nick Cotric after the first set of play.
A Jarrod Croker linebreak nearly led to a try to the Raiders, however poor handling saved the Rabbitohs from the score being extended any further.
The Rabbitohs identically returned serve with Bryson Goodwin making a bust only to lose possession, however a penalty for interference in the ruck allowed the home side to stamp their authority.
Back to back penalties would gift Souths more attacking chances, and would capitalise on an Adam Reynolds grubber kick with Tyrell Fuimaono scoring his first try in Red and Green and his first grade career. An Adam Reynolds conversion would close the defecit to just 8 points.
An unlucky bounce prevented Reynolds from kicking a 40/20, and a high shot on Robert Jennings from his opposite Nick Contric further welcomed the Rabbitohs back into the contest.
The flow of errors continued however, with Angus Crichton play the ball going awry, and a ruck penalty would gift the Raiders more possession.
After a Reynolds half break, the kicking maestro was taken off the field due to a concussion, which saw the Raiders took advantage, leading to Angus Crichton would be sent to the sin bin in the 58th minute for committing a professional foul on Cotric, who nearly scored off a linebreak, leaving the Rabbitohs one man down.
The Raiders would then take advantage of the absence of Crichton with interchange forward Luke Bateman crashing over for his first try of the year, and Croker’s conversion put the men from the ACT 14 points ahead with just less than a quarter of the match to go.
Former Rabbitoh Dave Taylor made use of the difference in numbers with a bust up the middle, however the work was undone with another ex-Rabbitoh in Michael Oldfield then giving away a penalty after tackling Bryson Goodwin in midair.
Youngster Cam Murray came off the bench and tried to inspire his teammates with some strong defence up the middle, however ill-discipline continued to mar the Rabbitohs ability to keep the Raiders at bay, and despite the effort, eventually the Raiders found the line with Michael Oldfield in the 66th minute through a cut-out pass from halfback Aiden Sezer. Croker then converted the try from the sideline.
Despite the result being beyond reach, the Rabbitohs continued to compete in closing minutes of the match, with Alex Johnston crossing the line in the last minute of play thanks to a Bryson Goodwin chip kick, however their effort went unrewarded with the Raiders winning by 20 points.
Raiders 32 (Jarrod Croker, Joseph Tapine, Nick Cotric, Luke Bateman, Michael Oldfield tries; Jarrod Croker 5 goals; Jarrod Croker penalty goal)
Rabbitohs 18 (Cody Walker, Tyrell Fuimaono, Alex Johnston tries; Adam Reynolds 3 goals)