The South Sydney Rabbitohs have survived a blockbuster elimination final against the Manly Sea Eagles, recording a 34-26 win in controversial circumstances.
The finals intensity was present in the early exchanges with both teams fast and physical in defense. The Rabbits were the first to take an advantage when Adam Reynolds nailed a 40/20. Following this they opened the scoring through Alex Johnston who beat two Manly defenders to score. Not long after this, Cody Walker scored their second try off a well-timed ball from Cameron Murray. However, Manly recovered very quickly from this with a try of their own. Brad Parker the man to slice through the left edge and get Manly’s first points. Shortly after getting their first, Manly got their second when Corey Waddell crashed over to cut the lead back to two points.
The tension of the game erupted into a scuffle in the 29th minute when Jack Gosiewski pushed Adam Doueihi’s head into the ground. As a result of the scuffle, Cody Walker was sin-binned for striking Gosiewski with an open hand. Manly were able to make the most of the man advantage after Reuben Garrick made a linebreak to setup Daly Cherry-Evans. In the shadows of halftime, a brilliant effort from Cameron Murray saw him dive over to steal an 18-16 lead for Souths at the break.
Moses Suli opened the half with a big try for Manly when he put an emphatic palm on Dane Gagai. There was another sin-binning early when Brad Parker deliberately tripped James Roberts as he was chasing through a kick. The Rabbitohs drew all square on the scoreboard with the penalty kick off the back of the sin-binning of Parker. Despite being down a man, Manly scored again to hit the lead. This time it was Jack Gosiewski going from villain to hero for the visitors.
However, the game was turned on its head in the 67th minute when Jake Trbojevic was controversially sin-binned for a professional foul. With Manly’s defensive centrepiece off the field, the Rabbits scored two quick tries through John Sutton and Cameron Murray to grab the lead 32-26. They would not be beaten from here as they held on to record an extremely hard fought 34-26 victory.
Physical battle delivers instant classic
What a game of footy that was. Finals footy lived up to its reputation tonight as Manly and Souths ripped into each other all night. The game had it all. Tries galore, big hits in defense, and three controversial sin bins. Both teams were playing at their potential and clicking on all cylinders in attack at times which was awesome to watch. It’s a shame there had to be a loser as both teams could easily have won the game.
Scuffle sparks controversy
In the 29th minute, all the built up tension in the game boiled over. Souths fullback Adam Doueihi got his head pushed into the ground by Jack Gosiewski which sparked and all-in scuffle. Cody Walker reacted with a slap to the face of Gosiewski to see himself sitting down for 10 minutes. There are many followers of rugby league who believe an opened handed slap is not enough to warrant a sin bin. It’s clear from this ruling the NRL have drawn the line at any type of striking as an automatic sin bin.
Refereeing shocker turns the game
There were three sin-bins in this game. The first was somewhat controversial, the second was warranted, but the third was almost laughable. With Manly leading 26-20, Jake Trbojevic was ruled to have committed a professional foul when he knocked Dane Gagai down as he was supporting a line break. Looking at the replay, Trbojevic grabbed Gagai’s jersey briefly causing him to fall over, which is probably worth a penalty, but is it worth a sin bin? As a result of this, the Rabbitohs scored two quick tries to take a 32-26 lead and turn the game on its head.
First preliminary final decided
With the Rabbitohs knocking Manly out of the finals race, the first preliminary final has been decided. Souths will travel down to the nation’s capital to take on the Raiders who will be fresh after having the last week to rest. With all their bumps and bruises healed up, the Raiders will be very hard to beat and the Rabbitohs will need to play their best footy to get to the grand final. Can they do it again? Only time will tell.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 34
Tries: Murray 2, Johnston, C. Walker, Sutton
Goals: Reynolds 6/8
Drop Goals: n/a
Manly Sea Eagles 26
Tries: Parker, Waddell, Cherry-Evans, Suli, Gosiewski
Goals: Garrick 3/5
Drop Goals: n/a
South Sydney Rabbitohs: 1. Adam Doueihi 2. Alex Johnston 3. James Roberts 4. Dane Gagai 5. Campbell Graham 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Damien Cook 10. Liam Knight 11. John Sutton 12. Sam Burgess 13. Cameron Murray Bench: 14. George Burgess 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Tevita Tatola 17. Ethan Lowe
Manly Sea Eagles: 1. Brendan Elliot 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Brad Parker 4. Moses Suli 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Dylan Walker 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Martin Taupau 11. Corey Waddell 12. Jack Gosiewski 13. Jake Trbojevic Bench: 14. Manase Fainu 15. Haumole Olakauatu 16. Sean Keppie 17. Lloyd Perrett