The South Sydney Rabbitohs Canterbury Cup side have been defeated by the Newtown Jets 26-24 in their Round 8 fixture at Henson Park.
With a last-minute 28-26 victory in the previous encounter, the boys in the Cardinal and Myrtle knew it would be a tough ask to beat the Jets away from home.
Souths kicked off and forced a knock on from the Jets in the first set of the game. Dean Hawkins forced a repeat set with a neat little grubber into the in-goal, however, the Jets absorbed the ensuing pressure well, with the Rabbitohs knocking on late in the set.
The Jets would give away more possession in the 8th minute, with fullback Will Kennedy spilling the ball on a kick return 20m out from his own line. The Rabbitohs would capitalize on this mistake, though, scoring off the scrum through left winger Mawene Hiroti, who would convert his own try for a 6-0 lead.
The Jets would not be down for long, hitting back in the 16th minute through veteran hooker James Segeyaro. It was a great piece of play by the crafty dummy half, who threw a huge dummy to split the Rabbitohs’ defence down the middle on their own line. He scored untouched under the posts to level the scores at 6-all.
Newtown then took the lead with a breath-taking try to Matt Evans in the 20th minute. A raid on halfway saw Luke Polselli find space on the left wing. As he came to the fullback he put a grubber in which sat up perfectly for Evans to dive on in the in-goal, making the scores 12-6 to Newtown.
The lead would not last though, with Souths scoring through Leigh Higgins, who strolled through a huge gap after a successful block-play on the left. The try was converted for 12-all.
The Rabbitohs would manage to take a slim 14-12 lead into halftime when Hiroti slotted a penalty goal in the dying seconds of the half after Ronaldo Mulitalo – fresh off his first-grade debut last week – hit Souths’ five-eighth Connor Tracey high.
The Jets started the second half in impressive fashion with a penalty goal two quick tries to Mulitalo. The first came after Higgins spilled a bomb, with Ronaldo diving on the ball in the in-goal, while the other saw him dive over in the corner Suliasi Vunivalu-style. Both tries were converted for a 26-14 lead.
However, poor discipline by the Jets would see Souths gifted opportunities to get back into the game. They scored two quick tries of their own through Dean Hawkins in the 58th minute and Hiroti for his second of the day in the 63rd minute. Hiroti was able to convert the Hawkins try, but not his own in the left corner, to have his side trail by 26-24 going into the final 15 minutes of the game.
A tense final 15 minutes saw both sides presented with several scoring opportunities, which made for very compelling and entertaining viewing. However neither side was able to capitalize and the scores remained the same, this time with Newtown getting the chocolates in yet another Rabbitohs-Jets thriller.
Newtown Jets 26 (Ronaldo Mutialo 2, James Segeyaro, Matt Evans, Aaron Gray tries; Braydon Trindall 5 goals)
South Sydney Rabbitohs 24 (Mawene Hiroti 2, Leigh Higgins, Dean Hawkins tries; Mawene Hiroti 3 goals)