Rabbitohs fall short against Knights after late fightback

Newcastle Knights travelled to face a much more consistent South Sydney Rabbitohs side, as they looked to hop off their roller-coaster ride at Bankwest Stadium.

With both sides starting the game at lightning speed, the first ten minutes flew by with no score.

That was until multiple set restarts against the Rabbitohs allowed the Knights to attack from short range.

The ball was spread left out towards Bradman Best through the hands of Mitchell Pearce and Kurt Mann and the young centre flicked the ball out the back of his hand to Enari Tuala to slide over in the corner.

Just minutes later, Bradman Best split the Rabbitohs defence open with a powerful run and his quick play-the-ball allowed Pearce to put Mann through a gap and pick up a quickfire second.

Things went from bad to worse for the Rabbitohs as just before the 20th minute, Tevita Tatola left the field after picking up a bad shoulder knock.

With 15 minutes remaining until the break, Souths finally looked to work themselves into the game following a 40/20 from Adam Reynolds.

Cameron Murray was the man who went close for the Rabbitohs but he couldn’t quite claim the short ball from Damien Cook.

Newcastle held firm for a short spell and then extended their lead further after a wonderful effort from Kalyn Ponga.

This time the full-back caught the ball on the outside shoulder of Cody Walker and stood up Alex Johnston and pick up his 24th career try.

As the half came towards an end, Souths were pushing to get on the board and Newcastle were conceding plenty of penalties.

Unfortunately for the Rabbitohs, Adam Reynolds looping pass bounced just in front of Corey Allan and the Knights were let off the hook.

FULL-TIME: South Sydney Rabbitohs 0-14 Newcastle Knights

Having ended the second half the brighter, the Rabbitohs continued in the same fashion as Jayden Su’A picked up Adam Reynolds grubber kick, but the big man was held up over the line by Best.

The Knights wouldn’t be kept quiet for long though as, Ponga first forced a repeat set, the, in the very next set kicked in behind off his left foot for the onrushing Best to chase onto and stretch the lead.

18 points soon turned to 20 after Tevita Tatola was penalised for tackling a man off the ball, so Ponga converted the extra two-points.

Despite losing by 20, Souths were slowly working there way back into the contest, but it took until just after the 65th minute to score their first points.

Damien Cook popped a short ball to Mark Nicholls and the prop-forward crashed over from close range.

In the very next set, Alex Johnston broke through the middle of the Knights defence following an offload from Cameron Murray, and a quick play-the-ball allowed Damien Cook to Run from dummy-half and dive over.

Two quick conversions from Reynolds meant the score was suddenly 12-20 with 12 minutes to go.

Two minutes later, it looked as though Souths had butchered the chance to close the gap further as they didn’t shift the ball left.

However, in the very next set, Tom Burgess powered over under the posts having shifted out the tackle.

Unfortunately for the home side, Burgess lost the ball as he twisted out the tackle and couldn’t regather before grounding.

That didn’t dampen the spirits of the Rabbitohs though.

Jackson Paulo received the ball on the left-hand wing and just about managed to keep his feet in the field of play before kicking back inside, with Damien Cook winning the race for the ball for a third try in seven minutes.

With the game becoming a niggly affair, both sides looked to score to swing the game in their favour.

With three minutes remaining, Hymel Hunt dropped the ball inside his own 20-metre line, while attempting to play the ball.

This allowed Souths to attack from a midfield scrum, but Ponga cleaned up the fifth tackle kick.

FULL-TIME: South Sydney 18-20 Newcastle Knights


South Sydney Rabbitohs

Johnstone, Paulo, Roberts, Gagai, Allan, Walker, Reynolds, Tatola, Cook, Burgess, Su’A, Lowe, Murray

Interchanges: Nicholls, Sele, Sironen, Mago

Tries: Nicholls, Cook (2)

Goals: Reynolds (3/3)

Newcastle Knights

Ponga, Tuala, Moga, Best, Hunt, Mann, Pearce, Klemmer, McCullough, Saifiti, Fitzgibbon, Guerra, Ese’ese

Interchanges: Watson, Barnett, Saulo, Mata’utia

Tries: Tuala, Mann, Ponga, Best

Goals: Ponga (2/5)

Referee: G. Atkins

Touch Judges: C. Butler, T. Smith

Video Referee: B. Galea

Image Source: @NRL (Twitter)

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