Ilias heroics see Jersey Flegg Rabbitohs score magic win over Panthers

The South Sydney Rabbitohs Jersey Flegg side have come away with a miraculous victory against the Penrith Panthers at ANZ Stadium on Members Appreciation Round.

A Lachlan Ilias field goal in the final minute of play saw the side come back from an 18-4 deficit to defeat the Panthers 23-22. 

The side began strongly in their first set of the match, making sixty metres after receiving the kick-off and defending stoutly to prevent their opponents from gaining ground in defence.

However, it was the Panthers who would score first, with a penalty giving them the territory to strike after five minutes. 

The bounce of the ball on fifth tackle nearly saw Penrith scoring again, but the scrambling defence of the Rabbitohs ensured they wouldn't concede a second try in as many minutes.

Their opponents nearly scored again as a charge down nearly landed in the arms of the Panthers, only for the ball to be knocked on. In more bad news for the Red and Green, centre and captain Nick Mougios was forced from the field after fifteen minutes for a head injury assessment.

But just as they looked down and out, coming off the scrum a beautiful ball from Lachlan Ilias saw centre Jaxson Paulo steam downfield, giving the side the much-needed territory to see fullback James Tautaiolefua slice through to score the first try of the afternoon. Despite the missed conversion, the Rabbitohs we well and truly in the contest. 

Another unfortunate bounce of the ball went against the Red and Green just minutes later, with a Panthers kick just falling short of the dead-ball line, and with the Steeden bouncing up and hitting the legs of Zane Bijorac, the Rabbitohs were forced to kick a drop-out.

Luckily for the side, however, the Panthers made an error themselves on the next set, with an overlap squandered seeing the final pass go out on the full.

The disciplined defensive efforts of the Rabbitohs soon reaped rewards, with a Panthers error on halfway gifting the side another opportunity to strike, only for an uncharacteristic error to give their opponents possession.

And the error led to more points for their opponents, with Penrith scoring on last tackle through their other second rower Terrell May to extend their lead to eight points with less than ten minutes in the half remaining.

Paulo continued to wreak havoc on the left-hand side of the field, carrying multiple defenders with each carry, but the young centre's efforts were undone when he was forced out of the field of play to give the Panthers the ball once again.

An error from a grubber from their opponents close to the line then gave another set to Penrith on the Rabbitohs' line, and they managed to cross again to go ahead 18-4 at the break.

The Panthers nearly landed another blow on resumption, with a left-side break leading to an overlap - however, the final pass to the winger was called forward in what was a huge let-off for the Red and Green.

Despite Penrith throwing numerous attacking raids, the home side was able to prevent further damage. 

The resilient Rabbitohs went on the front foot with a massive break from Kane Allan seeing the winger streak downfield, and with back-to-back sets, Lachlan Ilias stepped his way through the line to score. With the halfback converting his own try, it was just eight points separating the sides.

Ilias continued to lead the side, with his boot providing yet another trademark spiral bomb to trap the Panthers in their half, and with multiple errors frustrating their opponents, the Rabbitohs would make ground once again, this time through a James Tautaiolefua break.

And the clever ruck play by the side would see Jack Frasca score as the halfback and fullback combined to go back-to-back. With Ilias' sideline conversion, the gap then closed to two points.

With the momentum fully behind them, the Rabbitohs made another charge for the line, and with back-to-back penalties on second rower Maila Aluni-Chanfoon, the side was over again as hulking front rower Augustine Stowers barged over to score. 

The efforts of the Red and Green were rewarded again as a last-tackle kick led to another set of six for the side just ten metres from the line, with the Panthers forcing the ball forward. The enthusiasm of the young side seemed to get the better of them though, with a looping cut-out pass finding the touchline. 

But the Panthers themselves would capitalise on a six-again call themselves, and would cross soon after. With the conversion unsuccessful, the scores were now level with less than ten to go. 

A frantic final ten minutes saw a number of opportunities lost for both teams, with the Panthers throwing the ball around to get tackled on last, and a Lachlan Ilias break thwarted with a dropped ball on the line. 

But an error from the Panthers on the line with less than a minute remaining gave the Cardinal and Myrtle one last shot at victory, and it was the number seven who redeemed himself with a clutch field goal to snatch victory for the side. 

 

South Sydney Rabbitohs 23 (James Tautaiolefua, Lachlan Ilias, Jack Frasca, Augustine Stowers tries; Lachlan Ilias 3 goals; Lachlan Ilias field goal)

def

Penrith Panthers 22 (Alexander Myles, Terrell May, Jake Tago, Adam Fearnley tries; Brendan Hands 3 goals)

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