A career-first field goal from halfback Lachlan Ilias has sealed victory for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in an emotionally charged 13-12 victory over the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles as the Club celebrated the life and career of John Sattler.
With both sides scoring two tries apiece, the result was unable to be decided in regulation time, with a calmly slotted field goal to Ilias sealing the Rabbitohs' second win of 2023.
In an intense match at Accor Stadium for the Rabbitohs' first home game of 2023, the Red and Green's victory rounded off a day of wins for the Club, which saw all grades take home the two competition points.
It was a fitting tribute to former Premiership-winning Captain John Sattler, who passed away earlier this week, with the effort and determination from the side emanating throughout the contest.
The Rabbitohs wore a commemorative jersey featuring the famous 'torn rabbit' which was made famous in Sattler's 1970 Grand Final performance, with the Sattler family joining the playing staff for a minute's silence prior to kick-off.
At the 13th minute, the Accor Stadium crowd - led by The Burrow - appropriately brought in a minute-long applause in honour of Sattler, who wore the no.13 jersey in his 10-year career in the Cardinal and Myrtle.
In another celebration, forward Ben Lovett made his first-grade debut from the interchange bench, becoming Rabbitoh #1189 after rising through the Club's Elite Pathways system, while Jacob Host made his first appearance of 2023.
Both teams exchanged pleasantries in a physical start to the match, and while Isaiah Tass split the defence close to the line, the Rabbitohs' first foray into enemy territory failed to yield points.
Campbell Graham and Izaac Tu'itupou Thompson sent Reuben Garrick into touch following a break, and after the defence forced another error, Michael Chee-Kam found himself over the line, only for the ball to come free.
But it wouldn't be too long before the Rabbitohs touched down, with Cody Walker channelling Sattler's determination after chasing down a grubber kick from Damien Cook, with the mercurial five-eighth's effort to ground the ball just inches from the dead ball line providing the first points of the match.
The lead was short-lived, however, as a lost ball from the ensuing set saw the Sea Eagles score from a towering kick via Haumole Olakau'atu, with the conversion levelling the scores with 13 minutes remaining in the first half.
A collective sigh of relief was breathed as Tom Trbojevic was denied a try through a forward pass call before Tass showed poise and determination of his own to force the ball out from Keao Weekes with the Manly centre over the line.
Tensions spilt over with the sides coming together in a heated exchange with minutes remaining before the break - but it was Manly taking the lead heading into the sheds after Daly Cherry-Evans swooped on a pass under the posts.
While ball handling continued to trouble the Rabbitohs on resumption, it was Walker who stood up once again after a seesawing 10-minute period, splitting the defence to slam the ball down, bringing his side within two points.
Souths defended their line stoutly with a textbook Cameron Murray tackle halting Karl Lawton from crossing, before Lachlan Ilias pinned the Sea Eagles behind their line to swing momentum as the left side threatened.
Ben Lovett made his first appearance in the Cardinal and Myrtle with the Rabbitohs bravely defending their line, with Lachlan Ilias taking down Kelma Tuilagi before Alex Johnston soared to catch a towering kick.
An error in the Manly half opened an opportunity for South Sydney to strike, and a penalty in front of the sticks saw Latrell Mitchell tie the scores at 12-all with as many minutes left on the clock.
As the sides continued to go tit-for-tat in a tense finish to the match, a field goal attempt by Latrell Mitchell was waved away with 45 seconds remaining, before a Damien Cook charge down on a Cherry-Evan kick sent the match into Golden Point.
Defending the first set of extra time, an error from Josh Aloiai opened the opportunity for the Rabbitohs to claim victory, and it was Lachlan Ilias who iced his first career field goal for a famous 13-12 victory.
The Club celebrated the life and career of legendary figure John Sattler (Rabbitoh #515), who passed away on Monday at age 80. Sattler is remembered for captaining the Rabbitohs to 4 Premiership victories between 1967-1971, famously playing 77 minutes in the 1970 Grand Final with a broken jaw.
In honouring their former Captain, the Rabbitohs wore a commemorative jersey featuring the famous 'torn rabbit', which adorned Sattler's jersey during the 1970 season.
The victory capped off a wonderful day for the Club, with every grade winning their respective matches from the NRL through to the Harold Matthews (Under 17s).
Forward Ben Lovett became Rabbitoh #1189 after making his first-grade debut from the interchange bench in jersey no.18.
The first try of the match came 24 minutes in following a scrappy opening, with Cody Walker touching down a kick from Damien Cook.
Manly hit back almost immediately following a lost ball from the kick-off, with Haumole Olakau'atu soaring to equalise.
Both sides went back and forth for the remainder of the first half filled with plenty of emotion and tension, but it was Manly who took the lead at the break as Daly Cherry-Evans swooped on an intercept to race under the posts.
After an arm wrestle in the first 10 minutes of the second half, Cody Walker split the defence to score and bring his side back within two points. In an intense third quarter of the match, Latrell Mitchell levelled the scores with a penalty goal in the 67th minute.
Unable to be separated at full-time, the sides entered Golden Point extra time.
Lachlan Ilias stepped up to the plate to kick the match-winning field goal in the first minute of extra time, marking his first career field goal.
Play of the Game
Heading into Golden Point for the first time in 2023, the Rabbitohs needed a game-defining moment and it came from the boot of young halfback Lachlan Ilias.
Following Damien Cook's effort to deny Daly Cherry-Evans in the final minute of play from sealing the result for Manly, the Red and Green had the perfect opportunity to do so after Josh Aloiai lost possession from the kick-off.
Latrell Mitchell set up for a field goal of his own, but after sending the ball wide, it looked like the opportunity may have passed for the Rabbitohs - that was until Ilias took control on the final tackle to send the Steeden through for his first career field goal, and the all-important victory.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs are back at Accor Stadium next Friday night in what is expected to be a blockbuster match against the Melbourne Storm, with the Red and Green looking to claim consecutive victories against their Victorian-based opponents.