The South Sydney Rabbitohs have posted a thrilling 32-30 comeback win courtesy of a Lachlan Ilias penalty goal after the full time siren!
A five star performance from halfback, Lachlan Ilias, steered South Sydney to victory after bagging a double and kicking the winning penalty goal from the sideline with a clutch effort.
Tallis Angianga and Zane Bijorac also picked up doubles in a tremendous fight-back from South Sydney, after being down 18-0 at one stage.
With the rain bucketing down, whoever managed the game better and held onto the ball would no doubt go a long way in picking up the two points.
South Sydney started proceedings with a great set, marching up-field which saw Daniel Payne and CJ Mundine combine early as Mundine busted through the Sharks' left-edge defence with late footwork.
Great game-management from Ilias built pressure on the Sharks' line after putting in a deft grubber through for a repeat set. The pressure was relieved however, with a simple turnover late in the set.
Cronulla-Sutherland showed grit in defence, but by being too over-eager they were penalised which gave Souths a piggy-back out of their own end.
Back-to-back penalties put the Rabbitohs right on the attack again and despite the early dominance in field position and possession, simple turnovers handed the ball back to the visitors.
The Sharks made the Rabbitohs pay by posting the first points of the game through Fullback, Jonaiah LuaLua in the 13th minute.
A simple slide of hands down the right from the Sharks busted the Rabbitohs defence with Lualua supporting back on the inside as all good Fullbacks do.
With the early lead, the Sharks had the wind in their sails in the set preceding but a bruising read by winger Zane Bijorac shut down the play and turned possession back over to the Rabbitohs.
The boys from the Shire went back-ball back through Front-rower, Franklin Pele, who busted through the Souths' middle, off the back of a slick inside ball.
The Sharks were building nicely and a pinball-like ricochet kick a couple of sets later found its way back in the arms of the Sharks' Winger, Marco Talagi.
In the torrential conditions the stretcher was called for Bradley Zampech which brought live-wire Chaise Robinson into the game with 15 minutes remaining in the first half, shifting Tallis Angianga from the left Centre to Backrow.
Robinson's injection was vital in South Sydney's come back. His first touch of the game resulted in a try when he put through a grubber for Angianga, taking the score to 18-6 after a successful kick for goal.
The momentum shifted back to South Sydney when Marc Zaurrini made a bust up-field and Lachlan Ilias managed to slice through; beating a number of defenders to plant the ball down just before the break. After converting his own try, the Rabbitohs went into the sheds just six points behind.
Upon resumption the Sharks started red-hot, building pressure through forcing a number of repeat sets.
There was a fairly back-and-forth period with both teams entering the arm wrestle before the Sharks' Hooker, Isaac Longmuir scored through a simple show-and-go, exposing the South Sydney marker. Angust Ernst extended the lead to 24-12 to the Sharks.
The Rabbitohs made sure they were first to hit back when Lachlan Ilias went down the short-side to find Chaise Robinson who then flicked it out to Zane Bijorac for the athletic finish in the 63rd minute.
Bijorac went back-to-back three minutes later after a brilliant grubber from Marc Zuarrini down the short-side was pounced on, taking the score to 24-20 to Cronulla-Sutherland.
The Rabbitohs' right-side got involved as well when a great ball to Fruean Easthope put the Winger in-space with none other than Lachlan Ilias supporting on the inside to crash over for his double. He kicked the goal to give South Sydney the lead at 26-24 for the first time in the game.
The Rabbitohs were running-rampant when Tallis Angianga bustled his way over in the set following and despite the missed conversion from the sideline, South Sydney had a six-point lead with under five minutes remaining.
It was a dramatic final few minutes when Angianga gave away a penalty by playing at the short restart (that didn't go the 10). Franklin Pele crashed over for his double close to the posts which was naturally converted; levelling the scores with under a minute remaining.
The Rabbitohs managed to regain possession off the kick-off and a brave short-side play by Chaise Robinson saw the utility pick up a penalty close to the sideline, for being taken out without the ball.
Lachlan Ilias stepped up to the mark to attempt the shot at goal after the siren had sounded. A cool effort from the level-headed Halfback slotted the two points, confirming a 32-30 victory to the Rabbitohs.
Photo: Steve Montgomery of ourfootyteam.com
Match: Rabbitohs v Sharks
Round 1 -
Venue: Ironmark High Performance Centre, Sydney