The Rabbitohs Pathways were agonisingly close in all three games as they faced the Roosters Pathways.
Although the score lines didn’t reflect it, there was plenty of positive performances from the weekend, including a resilient showing from the women’s side.
Match: Bears v Rabbitohs
Round 12 -
Venue: North Sydney Oval, Sydney
After leading heading into the break, the NSW Cup side went down to an incredibly tough North Sydney Bears outfit led by Adam Keighran.
With four first half tries under their belt, the Rabbitohs would have felt confident about holding on for the result, until Keighran crossed over for a double to reduce the lead to six just moments before halftime.
The Bears seized the momentum in the second half and punished the Rabbitohs, pushing the limits to their defence and showcasing their lethal attack.
Souths started off the game in a rapid fashion, getting the opening try of the day in the 2nd minute through Izaac Thompson.
However, the Bears answered back swiftly with Keighran finishing off a Kevin Naiqama breakaway run to level the score.
The Rabbitohs began to build momentum, forcing the Bears into set restarts and errors, giving Davvy Moale the perfect chance to break through for his second try of the season.
With the lead back in their hand, the Rabbitohs took firm control of the game with two more tries in rapid succession.
Ben Lovett and Josh Mansour crossed over shortly after each other, as the Bears defensive woes began to come to the forefront.
The Bears looked to be out of the game, as Souths began to put them under the pump defensively.
With the hosts desperate for a spark in attack, Keighran stepped up once again with a crucial try just minutes before the break.
Although the Rabbitohs led by two tries, with only one successful conversion the Bears started the second half behind by just six points.
It was a tale of two halves, with the Bears immediately putting the Rabbitohs under the pump from the first tackle.
On the heels of three consecutive penalties, North Sydney comfortably made their way up the field and levelled the scores once again through Jerry Key.
Tom Carr gave the Bears their first lead of the match in the 53rd minute, capping off a remarkable turnaround for the hosts.
Souths were dealt a major blow just minutes later, with Hugo Patterson sent to the sin-bin for a late tackle.
With an extra man in attack, the Bears firmly took advantage scoring eight points in the ten minute period to put the result beyond doubt.
Keighran added two points, before Egan Butcher cracked the Rabbitohs defence to put the lead at 14.
It was a sloppy end to the game for both sides, but the Rabbitohs managed to get a consolation in the dying stages of the game, with Thompson crossing for a double.
With North Sydney securing the win, it means they now sit four points clear of Souths in third spot on the ladder and have defeated their local rivals twice this season.
Individually, it was another dominant showing from Davvy Moale, with the imposing forward getting a crucial try and leading his side in running metres.
Ben Lovett impressed in his first game since the charity shield fixture at the start of the season, playing the entirety of the game and celebrating his return to NSW Cup with a four-pointer.
Jacob Gagai had another strong showing at fullback, giving Souths the big plays in attack whilst crucially getting the team out of their own area.
The Rabbitohs return home next Saturday, looking to return to the winners circle against the Western Suburbs Magpies.
Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership
Match: Bears v Rabbitohs
Round 5 -
Venue: North Sydney Oval, Sydney
The Rabbitohs’ Harvey Norman NSW Women’s side was put up against undoubtedly their toughest opponent yet in the North Sydney Bears.
The Bears, who came into this match undefeated, presented and immediate threat in attack whilst boasting the second-best defensive record in the competition.
After a hard-fought first half, the Bears went into the break up by just six points and with everything to play for.
However, North Sydney proved their quality in the second half, running away with the result in the final ten minutes.
It was an intriguing start to the game, with Terri-Ann Caine getting the Rabbitohs out to a surprising lead, before Kalosipani Hopoate got the Bears back on level terms.
The battle continued as the game began to flow more between the teams, as Rachael Pearson re-instated Souths’ lead with her try in the 17th minute.
In dramatic scenes, North Sydney answered back a minute after the kick-off through Allison Futialo.
It was an incredibly disappointing end to the half for the visitors, allowing Pier Pritchard to cross over, giving the Bears a six point lead heading into the break.
The Rabbitohs would consider themselves unlucky to not be level or in the lead at the break and ultimately paid the price against an elite side.
Souths put on a heroic display defensively in the second half, holding out the Bears for the majority of the half and showing plenty of flashes in attack.
With the game hanging in the balance, Kirra Dib found the line for the Bears and seemingly secured the result in the process.
The Rabbitohs fired back through Stacey Markham, but her efforts were made redundant after Futialo scored her second in the final minute of play.
In tough circumstances, the Rabbitohs were defeated but put on what was one of the best performances in recent memory.
Ellie Johnston was instrumental for Souths, putting her all in attack and defence throughout the whole game in the middle.
Patricia Raikadroka showed her quality in defence, whilst putting on a notable showing getting the ball out of her own end.
Rachael Pearson impressed in her first game for the club, just days after being announced as NSW halfback, she showed her quality in game management and why the Rabbitohs signed her.
Souths return to Redfern next week as they prepare for a matchup with the Central Coast Roosters.
Jersey Flegg Cup
Match: Roosters v Rabbitohs
Round 12 -
Venue: Windsor Sports Complex, Windsor
It was another difficult outing for the Jersey Flegg side, going behind early and falling to their third straight defeat.
It’s been the story of the season so far, going behind early only to come back and fall just short in the end.
Their opponents this week were the top of the table Roosters, who had averaged 32 points per game in their first ten games.
The lethal attack of the Roosters was on full display early on, with three quick tries sending them into the comfortable lead.
The Rabbitohs showed plenty of fight to come back and reduce the deficit, but the initial lead proved too much to overcome.
Corey Ross, Luke Knight and Tevita Masima got the Roosters off to a dream start, with the trio all getting themselves tries in the opening 15 minutes.
The hosts were looking dangerous with every set as the game progressed and gave Souths their toughest test of the year thus far.
As they usually do, the Rabbitohs were determined to find an avenue back in the game and ignited their attack when Carsen Kaho opened the scoring.
Terrell Kalo Kalo reduced the Roosters lead to just six, as the Rabbitohs began to match the intensity shown by their opponents early on.
The sides went into the break separated by just a converted try, with Souths taking in the momentum towards the backend of the half.
Their hard work was unfortunately undone, as the Roosters started off the second half the same way they did the first, with Vuate Karawalevu finding the line.
Wesley Bruines got the Rabbitohs back within a try, as the Rabbitohs began to find their momentum again.
After a tough middle sector of the game, the Rooster began to show their quality and pulled the game away from Souths.
Jordan Swann’s try in the 52nd minute gave the Roosters the much needed breathing room, shortly before Ethan King sealed the result.
The Roosters extended their unbeaten streak to five at the expense of the Rabbitohs, who remain bottom of the ladder.
The week by week improvement from the Jersey Flegg side has been very evident and is sure to translate into more positive results as the season continues.
Wesley Bruin and Carsen Kaho were impressive in the backline for Souths, continually forcing the issue of the Rooster’s defence whilst gaining some crucial field position.
Tom Giles and Isaiah Vailalo had exceptional outings, bringing it against the most formidable pack in the competition.
Ben Campagnolo gave the Rabbitohs plenty of punch off the bench, in his first game back after a lengthy stint out of the game due to an injury.
Rabbitohs Head of Pathways, Joe O’Callaghan noted that although the results didn’t go the clubs way, there is still plenty of positives to takeaway.
NSW Cup: “We need to be a bit smarter with game management, the last ten minutes of that game we pushed the passes too much trying to score long range tries,” he said.
“Unfortunately our errors and discipline issues gave Bears plenty of momentum, its hurts but the boys will learn from this going against a top side.
Jersey Flegg: “The Roosters are top of the table and they showed that… the effort was there from the boys on the day, we asked for competition and they definitely showed that,”
“They proved to us that they can go to toe to toe with some of the competitions heavyweights, but conceding points early makes it very hard for us,”
“It’s been the story of the season so far, they’re working hard on the training field and we can’t fault their effort.”
NSW Women’s: “That was the best performance in our three years in the competition, North Sydney are the best team and they’ve been blowing teams off the park.”
“I can’t compliment Shane Sultana and that team enough, as a squad our program has gone up a notch and it’s not always about the scoreboard,”
“A couple decisions didn’t go our way that could of put us in the lead, so it’s a credit to the girls for being in the competition against such a good side, the whole competition has stepped up with the expansion of the game.”