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Rabbitohs pip Warriors in Jersey Flegg

A blitz of first-half tries has set up the Jersey Flegg side to a 34-26 win over the New Zealand Warriors at QBE Stadium in Auckland. 

Second rower Matt French was the star of the show, playing a hand in three tries, while halfback Blake Taaffe showed great poise and control with his kicking. Fullback James Tautaiolefua bagging a double.

But the side suffered an early scare when winger Nick Mougios dropped a high ball early on, with the Warriors regathering close to the line. Not to be deterred by the error, his centre partner Tallis Angianga came to the rescue with a try-saving tackle, forcing his opposite into touch before getting the ball down. 

Mougios then earned his side a seven tackle set, catching a high-ball in the in-goal, and with a penalty on hooker Joshua Cook on the next set, the Rabbitohs made their first attacking raid. 

On the ensuing set, a well-timed offload from backrower Matt French unleash Cook to score the first try of the game, and his fifth in three games.

An error off from the kick-off then gave the Warriors ample chance to strike back, but it was the composed defence of the Rabbitohs that frustrated their opponents into errors. 

But ill discipline from the side allowed the Warriors to hit back, with a left side shift seeing winger Harley Maynard scoring. 

Then Warriors then replicated the Red and Green’s set off the kick-off, losing the ball and gifting the opposition possession right on the line, with a slick scrum backline seeing fullback James Tautaiolefua chiming in beautifully and slicing through the defence to score. 

And the fullback went back to back on the next set, with a very fortuitous bounce on fifth-tackle sitting up perfectly for him to swoop for his double. 

The offloading by French was on song, combining with captain and halfback Blake Taaffe sending Mougios over the line, with the side scoring their third try in three sets. 

The Rabbitohs forwards continued to roll downfield, with the outside backs taking full advantage of quick play the balls. Similarly, the defence forced errors into their opponents, with lock Brock Gardner crashing over but unable to put the ball down in the final few minutes of the first half.

But it was the Warriors who crossed late in the second half,  with a right side sweep seeing their other winger Raymon Vaega burrowing over. 

It was a poor opening set of the second half for the Red and Green, with a penalty giving the Warriors the opportunity to close the deficit. But a huge defensive effort by winger Kane Allan saw fullback William Fakataomafi drop the ball over the line.

Another magic bounce of the ball by the Rabbitohs saw the Warriors kick a drop-out, and soon after it was French once again causing havoc, with a cut-out ball sending replacement winger Volkan Er score after just two minutes.

More ill discipline from the Warriors allowed the Rabbitohs to gain further momentum, with Kane Allan swerving through and cutting up the defence to score an impressive individual try.

But an error from the kick-off once again gave their opponents a sniff, forcing a drop-out, but brutal defence by the Rabbitohs forwards forced the ball out.

With fatigue creeping in, a slew of penalties then gave the Warriors breathing room, and with a number of back-to-back sets on the line, their centre Kayal Iro struck out on the edge. 

However, the Rabbitohs were quick to reply, with another well structured attacking raid seeing Tautaiolefua sending Allan over for his double.

Again, another error from the kick-off handed the Warriors possession, but again it was the fierce defence from the Cardinal and Myrtle.

It was a horror last few minutes, with the Warriors scoring three tries in the last seven minutes, but it was all Red and Green in Auckland as the Rabbitohs ran out 34-26 winners. 

South Sydney Rabbitohs 34 (James Tautaiolefua 2, Kane Allan 2, Joshua Cook, Nick Mougios, Volkan Er tries; Blake Taaffe 3 goals)

def

New Zealand Warriors 26 (Harley Maynard 3, Raymon Vaega, Kayal Iro, Neylamoris Masima tries; Sione Moala goal)

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