Rabbitohs Jersey Flegg claim resilient win against Roosters

The South Sydney Rabbitohs Jersey Flegg side have claimed a resilient 23-12 win against arch rivals the Sydney Roosters in the final regular season round of the competition.

A defensive masterclass from the Red and Green saw the Rabbitohs overcome their more fancied opponents, with the side's desire without the ball in a number of pivotal moments proving to be the catalyst of the match. 

With both sides qualifying for the finals, it was a matter of making the top four for the Rabbitohs against their opponents who had entrenched themselves in the top two.

The biggest rivalry in Rugby League wasn't just reserved for the first-grade sides though, with a number of big hits forcing errors and swinging the momentum of the match early on.

The Rabbitohs came close to laying on the first points, with half Blake Taaffe looking to set up an overlap, but the bounce of the ball went against the home side.

Off the back of that, as well as a penalty in the ruck, their more fancied opponents had a chance of their own to score, but the resilient defence of the Red and Green saw fullback James Tautaiolefua take a ricocheted kick and give his side much needed possession.

A strong charge from winger Moung Dut coupled with a brilliant kick to the corner from Taaffe then saw a sudden shift giving the Rabbitohs the advantage.

Souths continued to gain the ascendency after forcing an error just 25 metres from their opponents try line, and a sidestepping Taaffe would claim first points of the match after fifteen minutes. Converting his own try, Taaffe's efforts put the Rabbitohs up 6-nil. 

The Red and Green rampage continued with the home side scoring immediately after, with Taaffe's halves partner Lachlan Ilias running away to score after a brilliant ball put winger Kane Allan through a gap right from the kick-off, seeing the Rabbitohs lead 12-nil after seventeen minutes.

Souths would continue their ascendency, forcing another error from their opponents close to the line, with hooker Josh Cook asking plenty of questions from dummy-half.

The Rabbitohs denied the chance to go up by more than a converted try after a penalty, but their momentum would come undone as a Taaffe cutout pass to Moung flew just too far over the sideline.

A penalty to the Roosters saw their opponents eventually cross through a sidestepping Dejzha Pene, and with the conversion it was a six-point game with just under eight minutes left in the half.

The Roosters ill-discipline would continue to allow the Rabbitohs to extend their lead, and after dismissing another chance to take the two from a penalty, they would cross through Allan as some basketball-like offloading from Cook and Tautaiolefua put their winger over with less than two minutes before the break.

Taaffe's unsuccessful sideline conversion saw the Rabbitohs up 16-6 at halftime.

The second stanza began with a light downpour and with the Rabbitohs laying down plenty of shots on their opponents. 

However, the Roosters would go over again as the scrambling defence failed to contain Pene, who scored his second of the match just two minutes from the break.

With the try converted, it was a four-point game early into the second stanza. 

A quick tap from centre Jaxson Paulo saw the Roosters offside, and with the ensuing penalty on halfway, the Rabbitohs would be given their first chance to strike back.

After previously challenging the defence earlier in the match around the ruck, Josh Cook would get a four-pointer of his own with a trademark dive from dummy-half. Taaffe's conversion from in front would see the Rabbitohs return to a ten-point advantage.

A break from the kick-off by Luke Puru would see the front rower charge 60 metres downfield and give his side another chance to score, but with the weather turning grim, back-to-back errors alleviated any chances to score.

With the match turning into a grind with the added downpour, but the Rabbitohs continued their flair with an out-and-in play between Ilias, Tautaiolefua and Cook saw another chance present itself, but a turnover on the other side of the field told the tape of the second half.

Soon it was the Roosters on the attack, with a shot flattening a player without the ball seeing the Rabbitohs penalised and needing to defend their line. Despite the weight of possession on the side of their opponents, the brickwall defence would see another error forced and another try saved.

Ill discipline would creep into camp, with more chances given before a brilliant intercept on the line by Josh Fepuleai saved another chance, until yet another error would give their opponents a sniff.

But again the strong defence, highlighted by a brilliant one-on-one tackle from captain Nick Mougios saw the Rabbitohs repel their opponents once again.

The sides would trade penalties and errors in a tense final ten minutes, with a leg injury to Cook marring the defensive prowess of the Rabbitohs.

Allan would prove himself to be a defensive powerhouse as well, with the Roosters looking to score, the lanky winger would force his opposite into touchbefore crossing in the corner, much to the delight of his teammates and the raucous crowd.

The right side would again prove themselves a tough ask with another effort to put their opponents into touch, and with a Lachlan Ilias field goal running down the clock, it was the Rabbitohs who would claim a 23-12 win on home soil.

 

South Sydney Rabbitohs 23 (Blake Taaffe, Lachlan Ilias, Kane Allan, Josh Cook tries; Blake Taaffe 3 goals; Lachlan Ilias field goal)

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Sydney Roosters 12 (Dejzha Pene 2 tries; Bayleigh Bentley-Hape 2 goals)