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Tatola’s heroics fall short in golden point thriller

The Rabbitohs have found themselves on the wrong end of a heartbreaking 21-20 result to the Cronulla Sharks at Shark Park.

With the game looking all-but over and South Sydney trailing by six inside the dying stages, Tevita Tatola barged his way over from close range to force golden point.

It continued on a great run of form from the front rower, who extended the game when it looked like his side would fall short.

Brute force has the Bunnies level

Despite three attempts at field goal in the extra period, the Rabbitohs were unable to hit the winning strike, with the home side ultimately slotting the match-winner.

The visitors had all the early running and took the contest to the Sharks right from the opening whistle in a blockbuster Saturday afternoon clash.

Early defensive pressure from Cameron Murray forced a mistake and subsequently helped Latrell Mitchell slot a penalty to take the lead inside five minutes.

That advantage was extended as a swift backline movement was finished off by Alex Johnston in the 12th minute, moving him into the top 10 leading scorers of all time, and pushing South Sydney ahead 8-0.

Johnston into all-time top 10 try-scorers

Then as expected the match turned into a real arm wrestle between the two sides with top-four aspirations, as Cronulla hit back through former Rabbitoh Connor Tracey, and slotted a penalty of their own to level it at 8-all.

Errors continued to deprive the visitors of any field position to close out the half, and they went into the sheds down a converted try after a flying Ronaldo Mulitalo had an uncontested leap to snap up a bomb.

Some costly mistakes saw a good start to the contest and early lead diminished, with the Sharks finishing the half with a comprehensive 54% of possession.

After a disappointing finish to the half, a rejuvenated Rabbitohs came out firing to start the second.

Match Highlights: Sharks v Rabbitohs

They went 70m in their opening set, forced a mistake from the kick and then scored off the next set to level things up once again.

A Cody Walker grubber was unable to be cleaned up by the Sharks, with Latrell Mitchell on deck to ground it.

Just like the first, the middle stages of the half were a real grind with both sides getting to their kick and trying to force a mistake from the other.

Souths had a number of chances within Cronulla territory through this period, but were unable to put enough together to serious challenge the line.

Just when the Sharks had a rare opportunity to post an attacking kick, Isaiah Tass came to the rescue, clearing out a well-timed grubber to stop a certain try with 17 minutes remaining.

Off the next set another former Rabbitoh in Cameron McInnes looked to have broken the deadlock, before he was denied by the Bunker for a lost ball over the line.

The Sharks again took the lead through Andrew Fifita, leaving the Rabbitohs needing a miracle in the closing stages to try and salvage a result.

Enter Tatola, who took multiple defenders over the line to force golden point, although they would be unable to take advantage and fall by the barest of margins.

South Sydney gets the chance to bounce back when hosting the Warriors on the Sunshine Coast on Saturday afternoon.

Acknowledgement of Country

South Sydney Rabbitohs respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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