It was another last-minute victory for the Rabbitohs Canterbury Cup side, this time downing the Newtown Jets 28-26 on a sun-kissed Metricon High Performance Centre at Redfern Oval.
The Rabbitohs started off poorly sending the ball dead on the full off the kick-off. Despite the early setback, the Red and Green recovered quickly and were able to score first through Keon Koloamatangi in the 9th minute. Mawene Hiroti converted giving Souths an early 6-0 lead.
The Jets hit back quickly in the 17th minute, with former Rabbitoh Siosifa Talakai, following a break by Ronaldo Mulitalo who passed to halfback Kyle Flannagan, who then dropped the ball on the toe for a grubber kick which was then regathered by Talakai who score near the posts. Flannagan missed the conversion for the Jets to trail 6-4.
Souths then drew further ahead through halfback Jack Johns who scored after his forwards, initiated by Tom Amone, strung together some quick offloads in the middle of the field, stretching the Jets defence out wide enabling Johns to score relatively easily from a Billy Brittain pass. The ensuing conversion saw Souths extend their lead to 12-4.
The Jets then began to fight back, scoring two quick tries in the dying stages of the half to Ronaldo Mutialo and James Segeyaro.
The first try was the result of some slick ball movement from the Jets to the left, as the ball found its way quickly through the hands of Flannagan, fullback William Kennedy and try-scorer and Siosifa Talakai who crashed over in the corner.
Segeyaro’s try was equally impressive, as the Jets made a break through Polselli, passing as he reached the Souths’ fullback to Segeyaro who raced away to score under the posts. Flannagan converted the try and the Jets took an unlikely 14-12 lead into the break.
The Rabbitohs drew first blood in the second half after 10 minutes of relatively even football. Captain and hooker Billy Brittain picked the ball up from dummy half and found a yawning gap in the Jets’ defence on their line, scoring what would up being a relatively easy try. The conversion by Hiroti saw them retake the lead 18-14.
Souths extended their lead further in the 59th minute after Jacob Gagan capitalized on an error at the back by Newtown, who failed to diffuse a Jack Johns bomb. It was the right place at the right time for Gagan, who scored one of the easiest tries of his career. Hiroti converted from the sideline, making it a 10 point lead for the Cardinal and Myrtle.
Down by 10 with 14 minutes to go, the Jets hit back with a touch of class from Flannagan, who had defenders grasping at thin air with a dummy-and-go that fooled everyone at the ground. He strolled over the line to score, and converted his own try to get his side to within four points of the Rabbitohs.
After piling on mountains of pressure on the Rabbitohs, Newtown cracked Souths’ line once again through another former Rabbitoh Aaron Gray, who scored in the corner to make it 24 all with 3 minutes on the clock. Kyle Flannagan nailed the clutch conversion, giving his side a 2 point lead with less than 2 on the clock.
A short kick off by the Rabbitohs saw Newtown knock on 40m out from their own line, giving the Rabbitohs one last opportunity to seize back the lead before fulltime.
Souths made the most of their final shot at victory with an absolutely incredibly final play in which the ball went through many sets of hands, before finding Rabbitohs’ winger Hiroti, who crashed over in the corner right on fulltime to send the Rabbitohs’ faithful into a frenzy at Redfern Oval.
Hiroti missed the difficult conversion from the sideline, but it didn’t matter as the victory already belonged to Souths, defeating Newtown 28-26.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 28 (Keaon Koloamatangi, Jack Johns, Billy Brittain, Jacob Gagan, Mawene Hiroti tries; Mawene Hiroti 4 goals)
Newtown Jets 26 (Siosifa Talakai, Ronaldo Mutialo, James Segeyaro, Kyle Flannagan, Aaron Gray tries; Kyle Flannagan 3 goals)