Canterbury Cup Rabbitohs downed by Magpies in final round

The Canterbury Cup Rabbitohs have been defeated by the Wentworthville Magpies 26-16 at the Metricon High Performance Centre at Redfern Oval in the final round of the regular season.

Needing a victory to claim the Canterbury Cup Minor Premiership, the Rabbitohs were unable to overcome a Wentworthville side filled with plenty of NRL experience as well as being a man down for a majority of the match with a send off midway through the first half. 

The home side were on the front foot early with the Magpies giving away a penalty on the first set of the match, giving the Red and Green an early opportunity to score.

A deft grubber kick from halfback Dean Hawkins saw winger Dylan O'Connor pounce to open the scoring and continue their perfect start after just two minutes. 

With the swirling sideline conversion from Mawene Hiroti successful, the Rabbitohs took an early 6-nil lead.

The Magpies would score soon after after a penalty in the ruck handed over territory with five-eighth Will Smith scoring by regathering a ricocheted grubber kick and levelling the scores after eight minutes. 

With their opponents employing a strong kicking game, the Rabbitohs were constantly on the back-foot, and Wentworthville were given another opportunity after a Hawkins pass went astray into touch. 

Under pressure on the line, it was fullback Leigh Higgins who cleverly cleaned up an attacking grubber, but a forced error on the next set followed by a penalty led to their opponents taking the lead for the first time with a penalty goal. 

More ill-discipline from the Red and Green saw the home side under pressure once again, and this time their opponents would score their second four-pointer through Tepai Moeroa. 

With the missed conversion, the scores would see the Magpies up by a converted try after a quarter of the match.

Another unfortunate ricochet for the Rabbitohs on last tackle saw Wentworthville with another full set of six just metres from the line, and their first-grade class saw Tim Mannah crash over to take a twelve-point lead.

The Magpies would exercise their offloading ability as a break down wide saw them gain further territory, with another penalty close to the line handing over another two points with just under ten minutes in the half left. 

Needing a big play before the break, the Red and Green were given a chance through an incorrect play the ball from Wentworthville, but a forward pass soon after halted any opportunities. 

With O'Connor getting pushed behind the try line after taking a grubber, the Magpies were handed one last opportunity to score, but captain Billy Brittain had other ideas - cleverly stabbing the dropout to see centre Levi Dodd regather and streak 40 metres downfield.

With less than a minute on the clock, Dean Hawkins took charge by spearheading the attack, but a grubber from his halves partner Connor Tracey was cleaned up, leaving the scores at 20-6 at halftime.

Things continued to look grim for the Rabbitohs early in the second half as a swinging tackle gave the Magpies a penalty 40 metres from the line after a strong start from the home side, with Dean Britt sent from the field.

Wentworthville looked to score again, but strong defence from the side saw the Red and Green repel their opponents.

Levi Dodd and Hiroti would combine down the left-hand touchline to make a break and earn a penalty in the tackle, and with the Rabbitohs on the attack, a Connor Tracey cutout saw Hiroti cross in the Les 'Chicka' Cowie corner.

With the chance to close the deficit to eight points, Hiroti nailed the sideline conversion to bring the side back into the contest.

More deft offloading from Levi and a strong charge from Leigh Higgins would see another penalty going against the Magpies in the ruck, and another perfect chance for the Rabbitohs to strike again as the sun made its first appearance of the afternoon.

A knock-on at the line saw Souths with possession once again, the side come oh-so-close to scoring with a loss of possession from Jack Johns over the line handed the ball over.

The Magpies would change the momentum by forcing a dropout on the other side of the field, with Dodd and Brittain looking to replicate their efforts from the first half, only for the centre to this time be controversially called offside.

From there, Ethan Parry would cross the line after the putting the scores at 26-12 with just over a quarter of the match left. 

Not to be deterred, the Rabbitohs continued to ask questions of the Magpies' defence, and with Johns looking to clean up a grubber from Hawkins, a head-high shot from Josh Hoffman saw the side on the attack 20 metres out, only for a loose offload to go back to their opponents. 

Bayley Sironen prevented another try, intercepting an offload after a Matt McIlwrick break, and a flurry of fast and furious offloads saw the left side once again make their way downfield, however, the bounce of the ball continued to go against the Red and Green.

But in a masterful play, a chargedown from Tim Mannah saw a Tracey kick come to Levi Dodd on last tackle, with the centre cleverly kicking and regathering through the line, throwing a goose-step and a spiralling 30-metre cutout pass to O'Connor to score his second.

With Hiroti's conversion waved away, the Rabbitohs had to score two converted tries in the final five minutes to take victory.

After a strong surge downfield with desperate passes, a penalty 40 saw another chance to score for the desperate Rabbitohs, but again it was their opponents who were able to diffuse a Tracey cross-field bomb. 

 

Wentworthville Magpies 26 (Will Smith, Tepai Moeroa, Tim Mannah, Ethan Parry tries; Rhys Davies 3 goals; Rhys Davies 2 penalty goals) 

def

South Sydney Rabbitohs 16 (Dylan O'Connor 2, Mawene Hiroti tries; Mawene Hiroti 2 goals)