It was a difficult weekend for the NSW Cup and Jersey Flegg Cup side, with both teams falling short against the Newcastle Knights.
With both games being played in the Hunter region and the playing conditions contributing to some uncharacteristic errors, the Rabbitohs’ hopes of both sides playing finals in 2022 has taken a hit.
Match: Knights v Rabbitohs
Round 17 -
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
South Sydney have succumbed to their seventh loss of the season after falling behind early to a quality Knights outfit.
After flying out of the blocks with two tries in the opening ten minutes, the Knights didn’t look back as they went on to score five unanswered tries to seal the result.
Although there was a late surge in the final minutes from the Rabbitohs, it was too little too late as the early lead set by the Knights proved to be the difference maker.
Newcastle got on the front foot from the opening kick-off, causing the Rabbitohs to concede penalties in crucial areas of defence.
It was NRL veteran, Lachlan Fitzgibbon who opened the scoring in the sixth minute after capitalising on a forced drop-out from his side moments earlier.
After conceding another penalty deep in their half, the Rabbitohs were punished as Nicholas O’Meley broke through for the second try of the night.
The Knights were firmly in control of the game from this point and began to put the Rabbitohs’ defence under an immense amount of pressure.
Right as Souths began to look likely to hold the deficit to 12, the Knights broke through once again as Luke Huth crossed over in the 27th minute.
The Rabbitohs were plagued by penalties in the first half and found themselves even further behind on the stroke of halftime after McKenzie Baker secured his first try.
As the sides went into the sheds for the halftime break, the Rabbitohs conceded five more penalties then their opponents – giving them an obvious area of improvement to stride towards in the second half.
Newcastle continued to inflict more punishment as the first half errors followed the Rabbitohs into the second half.
After forcing a third drop-out for the game, the Knights seized on the momentum and extended their lead to a game-high 26 points, courtesy of a Krystian Mapapalangi try.
The turning point of the game came in the 50th minute, as the Knights conceded their first penalty in over 40 minutes of play and would be penalised a further three times in the next ten minutes.
With the momentum slowly shifting in favour of Souths, they deservingly got off the board in the 58th minute through Leon Te Hau.
Although the Knights found themselves on the back foot, they showed plenty of resilience in defence as they hung onto to their convincing lead.
The Rabbitohs made a late comeback with two tries in the final six minutes from Cody Hodge and James Hasson - reducing the Knights’ lead to just 12.
Ultimately the strong finish was cancelled out by a below average start that has seen the Rabbitohs slip in the race for the top four.
South Sydney now turn their attention to a tough matchup with the fourth place Bulldogs at Accor Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Jersey Flegg Cup
Match: Knights v Rabbitohs
Round 17 -
Venue: Cessnock Sports Ground, Cessnock
The Rabbitohs’ Jersey Flegg Cup side has fallen to their fourth straight loss as they were undone by a strong second half showing from the Knights.
Its’ been one of those season for the Rabbitohs in this competition, with a lot of players being called up from week to week leaving them depleted on gameday.
The loss places Souths at the bottom of the competition, but it hasn’t been all gloom and doom as they’ve showed flashes of greatness in portions throughout the season.
Much like the majority of the games this season, the Rabbitohs were behind on the scoreboard early as Newcastle raced away to a ten point lead in the first nine minutes.
On the back of some early pressure and a set restart, the hosts got on the board first through James Johnson.
Although the Rabbitohs began to click into gear after the first try, it was the Knights who once again crossed as Thomas Cant found Oryn Keeley for the second try of the afternoon.
The score line didn’t truly reflect Souths’ efforts in the opening stage and they were rightfully rewarded in the 19th minute, as Ben Campagnolo broke through for his side’s opening try.
Thomas Giles gave the Rabbitohs the lead just moments later as the Rabbitohs went back to back and sent themselves two points ahead of the Knights.
After a strong end to the first half, the Rabbitohs’ hard work was undone as Johnson crossed over for his double and gave the Knights the lead heading into the break.
Souths flipped the script on their opponents upon the resumption of play, with Maile Haumono getting a try in the opening minutes of the second half to give Souths the lead back.
With game seemingly in their control, the Rabbitohs were left stunned as the Knights forced their way back into the lead with a try from Keanu Wainohu-Kemp.
After forcing four penalties in eight minutes, Newcastle seized the momentum and doubled their lead in 51st minute through Keeley.
With just eight points separating the two sides, the game was there for the taking and both sides came agonisingly close in the final period of the game.
Ultimately, it was the Knights who would seal the result with just minutes remaining as Riley Jones extended the lead to 16.
It was a frustrating game for the Rabbitohs and one where they would of felt like they could of snatched a result.
The Rabbitohs will look to return to the winner’s circle when they face the Bulldogs at Belmore on Saturday afternoon.