An inspired team performance has led the South Sydney Rabbitohs to a stirring 24-12 win over the Melbourne Storm at Accor Stadium.
Match: Rabbitohs v Storm
Round 19 -
Venue: Accor Stadium, Sydney
The big moment came in the 46th minute with the game hanging in the balance and the Rabbitohs holding a slender four-point lead.
Johnston gets a second
Melbourne looked certain to score to start the second half on the back of a Jahrome Hughes break before it was eventually quelled.
The home side went down the field, with a Lachlan Ilias chip and Cameron Murray chase earning a repeat set.
They piled on the pressure and it proved too much, with an incredible Latrell Mitchell flick pass putting Alex Johnston over for his second try of the night and sparking a match-winning run that would continue the winning run.
The first half was one of contrasts, with the Rabbitohs enjoying the best possible start.
A simple backline movement close to the Storm line was finished off by Keaon Koloamatangi who waltzed into the try line to open the scoring inside two minutes.
No-look Try for Ilias
From that point on it was a struggle between both sides for the ascendancy.
Melbourne had the bulk of the chances for the next 20 minutes or so, camping themselves on the Rabbitohs line, but they were turned away every time.
Then it was the left-side attack that came to the fore to extend the lead in the 28th minute, with Mitchell injecting himself into the backline to find Johnston for a try.
Just as they looked poised to take a 10-0 lead into the sheds, Marion Seve busted through the line from a scrum to race the best part of 50m to score and keep the Storm in the game at the break.
Possession was tied at 50-50, metres were almost identical and the tackle count similar, setting up an enthralling second half between two top-four hopefuls.
South Sydney weathered an early attack from the Storm for Johnston to score his second.
That was backed up on the next set as they went coast to coast to push the lead out to 20-6 to give them a massive advantage heading into the final half hour.
Damien Cook had a customary dart out of dummy half, finding a charging Koloamatangi who in turn handed it off to Ilias, who did well to race away from the chasing pack to dive, score and continue a strong night from the half.
The Storm looked to attack after their second 40-20 kick of the night, but an error almost gave Souths a try of the year contender, as Mitchell swooped on the loose ball, kicked the ball ahead for Johnston, who in turn toed it off the ground, before just failing to ground the ball in a thrilling passage of play.
They wouldn’t have to wait long to post more points though, with another Storm error gifting them prime field position, allowing Mitchell to combine with Jed Cartwright to put Jaxson Paulo over in the corner for a 24-6 lead inside the final 24 minutes.
A grandstand finish was set up as Melbourne scored and converted to get back to within two converted tries shortly after, but despite a few nervous moments, the Rabbitohs were able to hold solid and extend their winning run to four games.
They’ll look to make it five on the bounce with a trip to Cronulla to take on the Sharks on Saturday afternoon.