Campbell Graham crosses for South Sydney. Photo: Phil Hillyard
Campbell Graham crosses for South Sydney. Photo: Phil Hillyard

Resurgent Rabbitohs put a dent in Roosters’ charge

This was remarkable. Playing the defending premiers with just 12 men - and winning.

South Sydney showed unbelievable courage and bravery to defend and resist a late surge from the Sydney Roosters - premiership favourites - when down one man.

Unbelievably, Souths finished the match with injuries to five players - Adam Reynolds, Junior Tatola, Liam Knight, Dane Gagai and John Sutton. Gagai was hamstring, the rest HIA.

 

This was as tough an encounter as expected and hoped. Photo: AAP Image/Craig Golding
This was as tough an encounter as expected and hoped. Photo: AAP Image/Craig Golding

 

And adding to the drama, Sydney Roosters star Cooper Cronk finished the match holding his arm, reminiscent of last year's grand final.

South Sydney simply ran out of troops - but not resilience. A 16-10 win ended the Sydney Roosters' seven-match winning streak.

And victory has dramatically sliced open this year's premiership.

"The real competition starts now," said Souths forward Sam Burgess.

Down 10-2 at halftime, Souths romped home to claim a 14-10 win over their 111-year neighbours and nail down a top four finish.

The Rabbitohs have now won three straight and head into the finals having defeated the Roosters and Broncos in the past three weeks.

 

Thursday night's match was played in front of Souths co-owner and Hollywood star, Russell Crowe and before a handy crowd of 20,093,

Souths enjoyed an energised start to the second half tries in the 47th minute (Campbell Graham) and Cody Walker (50th) to turn an eight point half-time deficit into a four-point lead for the Bunnies.

It was fierce, intense, and exciting match. This was a step-up in class, a dress rehearsal for the finals. There was some genuine, heavy collision last night. It was brutal.

Despite the loss, the Roosters couldn't finish any higher or lower than second place entering this match.

 

 

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was in the thick of the action. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was in the thick of the action. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

 

BRILLIANT BENNY

HE has won premierships at Brisbane and St George Illawarra and now the wily old fox is back for another crack at another club.

South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett has his Rabbitohs primed for a red-hot tilt at this year's title after bowling over the Roosters.

Bennett - a September marvel - is the man yet again. It was only three weeks ago Bennett attacked his side after a shock loss to Canterbury.

"It's not terminal yet, but it's getting close," Bennett said.

Now Bennett's team are back firing and ready for September. Victory has shown the NRL that this isn't a two-team race. Souths win has ended Manly's top four chances.

 

HEAVY HITTERS

The Roosters' second half was disappointing, disjointed and panicked at times.

Burgess was penalised in the first half for going high on Roosters youngster, Billy Smith. It was innocuous but showed Burgess - who had blood coming his mouth - was full of fire.

The giant Englishman conceded two successive penalties.

Roosters forward Zane Tetevano hammered Souths fullback Adam Doueihi on suspicion leading up to Walker's try. He was placed on report.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was placed on report for leading with the shoulder during a tackle on Souths' Liam Knight, who was stretchered from the field. Souths John Sutton came off late with a head knock. This was a bash-up.

 

 

Billy Smith‘s try was one to remember. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Billy Smith‘s try was one to remember. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

 

MAGIC MANU

What a pass.

Roosters centre Joseph Manu slipped a one-hand around the corner pass - over the top of South Sydney's defence - to send winger Billy Smith over the in the corner.

"It was special," Greg Alexander told Fox Sports.

Manu, who also set up the first try after fending off Souths winger Alex Johnston, was virtually untouchable during the opening half.

Kiwi-born Manu starred in the last year's finals series and is ready for another red-hot crack again this year.

Manu almost set up a third try with a miraculous kick through which was fumbled by teammate Victor Radley, who would have scored.

Three Roosters backs - Smith, James Tedesco and Daniel Tupou - ran for more than 100 metres in the first half.

Smith was super again after making his debut against St George Illawarra in round 23.

 

Campbell Graham crosses for South Sydney. Photo: Phil Hillyard
Campbell Graham crosses for South Sydney. Photo: Phil Hillyard

 

 

BABY KEARY

Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary withdrew from this match after wife, Amy, gave birth to the couple's first child, Hudson. Amy claimed it was a "safe arrival".

"We are so in love and cannot believe he is ours," she posted on social media.

Drew Hutchinson replaced Keary in the Roosters halves. Keary will return next week along with Brett Morris (calf) and Mitch Aubusson (ankle).

The birth came on Wednesday night but Keary couldn't play because he failed to participate in the Roosters' captains run. Morris and Aubusson were cut from the Roosters squad 24 hours before.

 

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