Storming Home

After just two victories all season, and sitting in last place, a change in coach and attitude brought a memorable victory for the South Sydney Rabbitohs over the Melbourne Storm. 

With coach Paul Langmack sacked mid-season, and captain Bryan Fletcher out of the contest meant that replacements needed to be made quickly and seamlessly. 

Caretaker coach Arthur Kitinas took over, and promising young forward Ashley Harrison, at just 23 years of age, was given the honour of captaining the Grand Old Club. 

But despite those distractions throughout the week, Harrison says that there were plenty of positives in the leadup. 

"I think Arthur was good for us in just simplifying our game plan and our jobs," he said.

"We had a pretty strong week at training and we prepared really well. Going into the game we were pretty confident.

"Melbourne were pretty strong and we had some patchy form going in, but we were confident we could get the job done."

"They weren't the superpower they are now but still had a strong team ready to play finals football most years and were still probably the yardstick of the competition.

"Back then I suppose Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk were a little younger but could still turn a footy game on. I do remember they were a strong team that other teams measured themselves on."

Needless to say, the inexperience of the side and coach was exposed early on, as Melbourne stormed to a 16-nil lead. 

The former captain, however, was able to inspire his side with a try late in the first half, and by the break, they had closed the deficit to just four points. 

"When you do fall behind you've just got to go back to the process," he explained.

"In the initial parts of the game we were getting away from that, but being captain you've got to reinforce it. I tried to rally the troops and get back into our lines, and as it turned out we were able to do that and get the points.

"When you're playing against the Melbourne Storm if you can stay close to them at halftime that gives you a bit of confidence and combined with the group preparation previously during the week was the difference between that game and any other game where we would have fallen off."

The momentum carried into the second half continued to surge the Red and Green through the rest of the match, eventually taking the lead through and slick try to Luke Macdougall. 

Although Melbourne hit back with a four-pointer of their own, a Wes Tillott double sealed the match, with the Storm scoring a consolation try late in a 28-26 win. 

For Harrison, it remains as one of his best moments in the Cardinal and Myrtle. 

"It was definitely one of the most memorable matches for me," he said.

"I was fortunate enough to spend three years at the Rabbitohs and after that captained them for a fair chunk of time."

 

Match report supplied by Michael Curin

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The South Sydney Rabbitohs, under new coach Arthur Kitinas, pulled off one of the upsets of the season when they came from 16-0 down to defeat Melbourne Storm by 28-to-26 at Aussie Stadium.

Souths directors voted 7-2 on 1st June to sack Paul Langmack as coach and appointed former Premier League coach Arthur Kitinas as caretaker coach for the rest of the season. The next day Shane Richardson was appointed their new CEO, sparking speculation that Shaun McRae, who teamed with Richardson at Hull, will be the new Rabbitohs coach in 2005.

For a while it looked like another tough day at the office for the Rabbitohs, who allowed the Storm to score three tries in the 15 minutes of play. But from a seemingly impossible position, the Rabbitohs played their way back into the game, scoring converted tries through lock Ashley Harrison and interchange forward David Fa'alogo to trail only 16-12 at halftime.

They hit the front for the first time when winger Luke MacDougall scored six minutes into the second-half, but Melbourne responded with a try to rookie winger Dustin Cooper. Then, back-to-back tries to Central Coast junior Wes Tillott opened-up a 28-20 lead for Souths and from there they managed to withstand a late fightback by the Storm, who scored one late try in the 78th minute and had another called back by referee Matt Cecchin, who ruled that a pass from centre Ben MacDougall to interchange player Cooper Cronk was forward.

Quietly spoken Kitinas was acclaimed a hero by the small but vocal Aussie Stadium crowd after the Rabbitohs hung on to claim only their third win of the season. "Once we had an even share of the ball, we were able to get our way back into it and coming back from 16-0 down to lead 18-16 shows the players here do have a lot of belief in themselves," Kitinas said.

Let's face it, Souths had no right to win this game. Apart from the fact they hadn't scored a win since Round 4 was the damning statistic that they were yet to win without their skipper Bryan Fletcher in the past two seasons. Then there was the start – which explained why they hadn't won since round four.

Kitinas must have been wondering what he'd gotten himself into after the Storm scored three embarrassingly easy tries inside the first 15 minutes, but a little over an hour later, he was being feted as the man to lead the Rabbitohs surge into a new era. Joe Williams and Owen Craigie were the players to lead the resurgence, which former coach Paul Langmack hadn't used this year as his pairing halves. 

South Sydney 28 (W.Tillott 2, A.Harrison, D.Fa'alogo, L.MacDougall tries; J.Williams 4 goals)

defeated

Melbourne 26 (A.Chan 2, D.Kidwell, S.Bell, D.Cooper tries; M.Orford 3 goals)

 

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