The Rabbitohs firmed their top-four position with a solid 31-10 victory over an ill-disciplined Warriors side.
Both sides showed intensity in the early stages of the match trading blows like heavyweight boxers in a title fight. It wasn’t until a Warriors penalty gave the Rabbitohs the field position they were looking for as Cameron Murray slid across the try line for the first points of the match at the 15th-minute mark, Adam Reynolds conversion gave them the 6-0 lead. The Warriors fought back and had some scoring opportunities but could not convert them into points. In the 27th minute it was almost rinse and repeat for the Rabbitohs as they took advantage of another Warriors penalty and made easy work of the Warriors edge defence with Alex Johnston crossing over in the corner, Reynolds successful conversion pushed the lead out to 12 as the Warriors fans started to get that sinking feeling after Reynolds kicked a penalty in the 32nd minute.
That feeling didn’t last long however as Adam Pompey finished off a nice run from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in the 35th minute for the Warriors first points of the match, Issac Luke’s conversion saw the Warriors keep themselves in the contest trailing 14-6. The Warriors wasted little time as Luke and Kodi Nikorima combined to scamper down the sideline with Nikorima punching a kick through for Ken Maumalo to scoop up, scoring his 17th try of the season, Luke missed conversion saw the Rabbitohs take a 14-10 lead into the break.
The second half started much like the first with neither side able to gain the upper hand in the early stages. The Warriors discipline hurt them again as Reynolds kicked back to back penalties in the space of 4 minutes, increasing the Rabbitohs lead to 18-10. The Rabbitohs weren’t ready to stop yet as Murray crossed for his second try of the night at the 57th minute, Reynolds form with the boot continued with yet another successful conversion.
The Warriors show glimpses of what could have been with some nice attacking moves, but the lack of polish showed the difference between a finals team and a bottom eight side. The Rabbitohs added to the home crowds pain as Dane Gagai crossed the line in the 70th minute after a length of the field run by Campbell Graham, Reynolds had the final say with one more conversion and slotting a field goal in the 79th minute, handing the Rabbitohs a well deserves 31-10 victory.
Patience the key
The Warriors showed improved intensity in patches in this match, but the Rabbitohs played smart football and didn’t overplay their hand waiting for the right opportunities to strike. Taking penalty kicks when they were on offer was an intelligent ploy as it allowed the Rabbitohs to dominate possession and forced the Warriors into errors as they tried to keep themselves in the match.
Discipline hurts Warriors
The Warriors were their own worst enemies in this match. Constantly being relentless on defence for several tackles before gifting the Rabbitohs easy penalties. It was a perfect demonstration of a team clearly frustrated with how their season has gone with no one to blame but themselves.
Ready for finals football
This type of physical clash was just what the doctor ordered as the Rabbitohs momentum continues to grow as they edge closer to finals football. A battle-hardened Rabbitohs side will be a threat to any team they face in the playoffs.
Home woes continue
Warriors fans have had a rough year with the Warriors ending 2019 with only three victories at Mount Smart Stadium. The fortress is nothing but a distant memory now, and the New Zealand side needs to ensure that the change their home fortunes in 2020 if they want the fans to return.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 31
Tries: Cameron Murray (2), Alex Johnston, Dane Gagai
Goals: Adam Reynolds 7/7
Drop Goals: Adam Reynolds 1/1
New Zealand Warriors 10
Tries: Adam Pompey, Ken Maumalo
Goals: Issac Luke 1/2
Rabbitohs: 1. Adam Doueihi, 2. Alex Johnston, 3. Campbell Graham, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Corey Allan, 6. Cody Walker, 7. Adam Reynolds, 8. Sam Burgess, 9. Damien Cook, 10. Liam Knight, 11. John Sutton, 12. Jaydn Su’a, 13. Cameron Murray, 14. Tevita Tatola, 15. Kyle Turner, 16. Ethan Lowe, 17. Mark Nicholls
Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2. David Fusitu’a, 3. Peta Hiku, 22. Adam Pompey, 5. Ken Maumalo, 6. Kodi Nikorima, 7. Blake Green, 8. Agnatius Paasi, 9. Issac Luke, 10. Leeson Ah Mau, 11. Adam Blair, 12. Isaiah Papali’i, 13. Jazz Tevaga, 14. Lachlan Burr, 15. Sam Lisone, 16. Ligi Sao, 17. Chanel Harris-Tavita