Rabbitohs Canterbury Cup side complete upset for the ages

The South Sydney Rabbitohs Canterbury Cup side have completed a David and Goliath battle against the Wentworthville Magpies, overcoming injuries and defeating a side with over 400 NRL games worth of experience to claim a famous 20-14 victory.

Despite being without a number of players, including captain Billy Brittain and five-eighth Connor Tracey, who featured in the NRL side on Friday night, while also suffering injuries throughout the game, the Red and Green put in a performance the forefathers of the Club would be proud of. 

It was a tough start for the side as the first-grade class of Wentworthville, which included the likes of Bevan French, Tim Mannah, Daniel Alvaro, Matt McIlwrick and Oregon Kaufusi set a high tempo from the outset, with the Magpies scoring two quick tries in succession to set up a 10-nil lead.

However, as the Rabbitohs managed to find their groove into the match, Canterbury Cup debutant Kane Allan managed to score in the corner thanks to some clever play from hooker Josh Cook, who drew in defenders and threw a basketball-like pass for his winger to touch down. The sideline conversion from halfback Dean Hawkins then closed the deficit to four.

A strong set from the kick-off, which included a deft kick from five-eighth Blake Taaffe pinned Wentworthville behind their 20, as well as a huge hit from prop Rhys Kennedy managed to dislodge the ball and give the side further possession. 

With a number of sets on the line, a quick play the ball from Kennedy saw Cook swoop and score a trademark try next to the posts, and with Hawkins easily slotting the goal, all of a sudden it was the Red and Green who held the lead with fifteen to go in the half. 

Back-to-back errors from both sides halted momentum momentarily, however, a knock-on from the Rabbitohs gave the Magpies a chance to score, which nearly eventuated as a chip kick saw Jaemon Salmon soar in the air to claim the ball, only for him to lose it on the way down. 

But it was the Rabbitohs who came off second best, as halfback Dean Hawkins was forced from the field with a shoulder injury. 

His replacement, Jack Johns, immediately stamped his authority on the match, with a towering spiral bomb, which was knocked on by their opponents, only for a Souths player to be called offside.

The ensuing penalty gave Wentworthville a chance to hit back, but the desperate and committed defensive pressure of the Rabbitohs forced a seven-tackle set, however, an early shift on Wentworthville's next set saw them score right before half-time. 

The second stanza proved to be a true display of commitment in The Rabbitoh Way, as both sides looked to gain the ascendency from the outset. 

And the Rabbitohs looked to be ahead with a linebreak from new signing Jaxson Paulo coupled with a deft kick from Jack Johns setting up a much-needed line drop-out.

And Paulo looked to be over for his first try in Red and Green, as a shift from five-eighth Blake Taaffe saw fill-in-skipper Jacob Gagan send the winger over, only for the final pass to be called forward. 

Paulo continued to showcase his class, making a one-handed catch in the in-goal to earn his side a seven-tackle set and then putting Gagan through for a half break with a well-timed pass.

Just as fatigue began to affect both sides, it was the Red and Green who capitalised as Jacob Gagan made up for his previous mistake, scooping up a wayward pass and running 60 metres to score under the posts.  

The Rabbitohs continued to dig deep, despite the Magpies' wealth of NRL experience, with the side forcing errors and gaining strong territory.

A break from Johns saw the Magpies give away a penalty right in front of the tryline on the next set, and Shane Millard's men opted to kick for goal, with new Rabbitoh Levi Dodd extending the lead to six.

The final ten minutes of the match saw the Magpies with the weight of possession, but the Red and Green defence failed to give in, forcing a number of errors and preventing the home side from scoring in the second half to complete and emphatic victory. 

 

South Sydney Rabbitohs 20 (Kane Allan, Josh Cook, Jacob Gagan tries; Dean Hawkins 2, Levi Dodd goals; Levi Dodd penalty goal)

Wentworthville Magpies 14 (George Jennings, Bevan French, Greg Leleisiuao tries; Bevan French goal)

 

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