South Sydney have battled to secure a courageous win over the New Zealand Warriors in front of a record Perth crowd tonight, trouncing their Kiwi opponents 34-18.
While the Bunnies' flight home will resemble more of a hospital ward than a Boeing airliner, the relocated hosts of tonight's match were outstanding in the second half to overcome an exuberant Warriors side that simply faded out late.
The primary concern for the Rabbitohs after tonight's game is fullback Greg Inglis, who sustained what appears to be a serious leg injury just before halftime, and could be out for one or two months - meaning he misses the rest of the Origin period and then some for the Maroons and his club. Bryson Goodwin was also badly injured with a nasty looking elbow injury, while Jason Clark's head knock in the second half will also have Michael Maguire raiding the Norths' VB NSW Cup stocks over the coming weeks.
It wasn't the greatest start for the Rabbitohs, two incredible tries kicked the match off for the Warriors with David Fusitu'a managing some incredible acrobatics in the right hand corner of the field, while Shaun Johnson ran off a Suaia Matagi break to secure the visitors a 10-0 lead within ten minutes of the kickoff.
It appeared as though the Warriors took their foot off the gas for the remainder of the game, but for the first half at least their defence held strong against a rampaging Souths forward pack - this included an outstanding tackle by Shaun Johnson on Rabbitohs' lock Sam Burgess. The Bunnies' only points of the opening forty came from a Dylan Walker try, converted by Adam Reynolds.
Then the moment Rabbitoh fans and Maroon fans alike had dreaded - Inglis went down just before the halftime break. It appeared as though he fell awkwardly helping Sam Burgess tackle an opposition player and he subsequently hobbled off. The Warriors led 10-6 at oranges.
The second half started much in the same way as the first - the Warriors bounded out of the blocks and extended their lead after 50 minutes through Simon Mannering, before the Rabbitohs, despite missing three key players, went on a run that saw Walker and Kyle Turner put their side in front through back-to-back tries - then they added three more in the final ten minutes, including a shock Dave Tyrrell double and an aerial piece of genius from Joel Reddy off a Reynolds cross-field kick.
The Warriors added a late consolation to Konrad Hurrell in the final minute. Next week they head home and relax with a bye, while the Rabbitohs are back at their home base of ANZ Stadium to host the Wests Tigers.