The South Sydney Rabbitohs Canterbury Cup side have defeated the North Sydney Bears on a beautiful Sunday afternoon at North Sydney Oval 31-24.
Hooker Billy Brittain and halves Connor Tracey and Blake Taaffe were all instrumental in the win, with man of the match Taaffe landing a last-minute field goal to seal the win.
The Bears started the stronger of the two sides, bagging the opening try in just the second minute. Halfback Drew Hutchison was in fine touch, sending a high chip kick across to the left corner of the field for centre Billy Smith to pluck out of the air and score.
This was followed by some more Hutchison magic, this time on the right side of the field, as he threw a beautiful cut-out ball to an unmarked Bernard Lewis who scored in the corner. This gave the Bears a commanding 10-nil lead after just ten minutes.
The Rabbitohs were able to claw their way back into the game through, with some big efforts in the middle to wrestle back momentum from the Norths forwards.
But it was some silky-smooth skills out wide that got them on the scoreboard for the first time in the game, a beautiful Taaffe grubber leading to Leigh Higgins’ first try of the game in the right corner of the field.
A string of penalties led to an extended run of possession for the Rabbitohs towards the end of the half. With less than two minutes remaining on the clock, left-winger Mawene Hiroti was tasked with reducing the Bears’ lead to just 2 points when the Rabbitohs were awarded a penalty from in front of the posts, converting the opportunity for his side to trail by 10-8.
However, the Red and Green were able to go the length of the field in the ensuing set through some brilliant play through the middle by Brittain and Taaffe. Connor Tracey capitalised on the final play of the half, sending a chip kick towards the right corner of the field for Higgins to bag himself a first-half double, giving his side an unlikely 12-10 halftime lead over the Bears.
The Rabbitohs started the second half in strong fashion, with Tracey pouncing on a grubber in the in-goal to score near the posts in the 43rd minute. This was followed by another Rabbitohs try, this time to mid-season signing Jaydn Su’A who hit a yawning gap in the defence off a beautiful Billy Brittain pass close to the line.
A try to Billy Smith in the 62nd minute narrowed the gap to ten and got the Bears back in the contest with just under a quarter to go. However, a try to Rabbitohs bench forward Lyndon Hills several minutes later extended the Rabbitohs’ lead to 16 points.
After a late double to North Sydney winger Curtis Johnston, the comeback was very much on as Norths threw caution to the wind and got downfield with ease off the back of a number of offloads.
However, a Blake Taaffe field goal with two to go snuffed out any hope of a comeback, and as Lachlan Lam sent the ensuing kick-off out on the full the comeback was officially dead, with the Rabbitohs securing a seven-point win.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 31 (Leigh Higgins 2, Connor Tracey, Jaydn Su’A, Lyndon Hills tries; Mawene Hiroti 5 goals; Blake Taaffe field goal)
North Sydney Bears 24 (Billy Smith, Curtis Johnston 2, Bernard Lewis tries; Billy Smith 2 goals)