Bunnies thunder into eight with victory over Manly

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have come from twelve points down tonight to seal a six-point victory over Manly Warringah at Telstra Stadium, defeating the premiership heavyweights 24-18 and themselves charging into the NRL top eight.

The Sea Eagles ruled the roost early, scoring their entire 18 points in the first twenty minutes to lead 18-6, which they took to the break after absorbing plenty of pressure in defence. On the other side of the coin, the Rabbitohs' attack in the latter part of the second half lacked punch - after six consecutive sets on the Manly line they managed no points.

Stand-in halfback Michael Monaghan was left ruing a missed field goal late in the first half which may have changed the complexion of the game - but it was not to be. The home side came out firing in the second half and with tries coming far easier, the Rabbitohs fought to draw level with 25 minutes remaining. The scores remained level at Telstra until the 72nd minute, when a kick ahead saw a race for the ball won by Souths' winger Fetuli Talanoa - and ultimately two competition points. The Rabbitohs managed to withhold late challenges from Manly to record an historic victory and move one step closer to the finals berth they look more and more likely to receive every week. They will chance their hand next week against the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval, while Manly don't have an easy path, facing a wounded Warriors side at a packed Mt Smart Stadium next Sunday.

Match Details Round 23 :: August 20th, 2007 07:00 PM Venue: Telstra Stadium Referee: Sean Hampstead Crowd: 12,087 Halftime: Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 18-6

South Sydney Rabbitohs 24 Tries: Yileen Gordon, Issac Luke, John Sutton, Fetuli Talanoa Goals: Joe Williams (4/4) Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 18 Tries: Brett Stewart, Chris Hicks, Steve Menzies Field Goals: Michael Monaghan (0/1) Goals: Jamie Lyon (3/3)

LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: John Sutton (Rabbitohs) 2 Points: Issac Luke (Rabbitohs) 1 Point: Steve Menzies (Sea Eagles)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Good evening and welcome to what's set to be one of the biggest nights in Souths' recent history as they take on Manly Warringah in the wet. A win puts the Rabbitohs in the top eight and within sight of a finals berth, while a win for Manly keeps alive their slim hopes of earning the minor premiership.

Jersey Flegg between Souths Juniors and the Sydney Roosters was CANCELLED due to the inclement weather that swept Sydney today. Grab your hot chocolate and tuck in - there's 80 minutes of quality football coming your way shortly.

Team changes... rather than attempt to explain the myriad of shuffles in the Manly lineup, the team will take the field as follows: Brett Stewart, Michael Robertson, Steve Bell, Steve Menzies, Chris Hicks, Jamie Lyon, Michael Monaghan, Adam Cuthbertson, Matt Ballin, Glenn Hall, Anthony Watmough, Glenn Stewart, Jack Afamasga Interchange - Mark Bryant, Brent Kite, Clint Halden, Jason Wells

The Rabbitohs have David Fa'alogo out injured, with Jaiman Lowe to replace him on the bench. Shane Rigon will start.

Kickoff is coming up soon.

0 min: Game on at Telstra in the final match of Round 23! Manly with the first set of six.

2 min: Manly with all the luck early and some good football sees them within a whisker of a try - before a Bunnies player almost manages an intercept before dropping it.

4 min: VIDEO REFEREE for possible Manly try - checking for obstruction. Decision pending... TRY!

4 min: TRY Manly Warringah Sea Eagles A simple draw and pass maneuvore puts Brett Stewart over the line, and after the video referee checks for a possible obstruction, the Eagles are awarded first points. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 6-0

7 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs Despite a dubious non-ruling on a strip Souths go on the attack and a brilliant cross-field kick sees Yileen Gordon claim the spoils. Things even now at Telstra as the Conversion attempt by Joe Williams successful. 6 all

11 min: The Rabbitohs given multiple and ample opportunities to put more points on the board but just pushing of passes and silly drop-balls are plaguing them early here, and now Manly are out of gaol.

17 min: TRY Manly Warringah Sea Eagles Missing what appeared to be a fairly obvious forward pass earlier in the set, Hampstead awards a try to Chris Hicks. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 12-6

20 min: TRY Manly Warringah Sea Eagles Without hesitation the Manly side is in again and now are 12-point leaders as Steve Menzies nabs try #165. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 18-6

23 min: Souths finally manage some more possession and will take their chances at closing the gap.

25 min: Souths earn back-to-back sets and will once again go on the attack.

28 min: The Manly line inpenetrable - the Bunnies now on their fourth consecutive set without result.

30 min: Lyon gets his hand to a ball headed for touch - Souths will approach set number five...

32 min: Manly's sensational defence holds true the fifth straight set of six and the Sea Eagles will finally get to run away from their own goal line.

36 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Manly Warringah Sea Eagles A poorly timed field goal attempt goes wide for Manly's stand-in halfback. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 18-6

39 min: VIDEO REFEREE for possible Manly try to Jamie Lyon - checking the grounding in the corner. Decision pending... NO TRY - South Sydney Play The Ball.

HALFTIME Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 18 South Sydney Rabbitohs 6 Despite the obvious gap this game is still wide open - Souths would be much closer but for the stunning defence of the visitors.

As we enter the halftime break - the stats sheets look something like this:

Penalties - 2-all Completions - South Sydney 14/19, Manly Warringah 14/18 Possession - South Sydney 55%, Manly Warringah 45% Tackles - South Sydney 124 Manly Warringah 145 Missed Tackles - South Sydney 12 Manly Warringah 10

As is evidenced above, Souths have had the lions share of possession but a lack of zest in attack and a reliance on going to their air for points has been their shortfall, and the Manly side on the other hand have looked much more dangerous whenever they had the very limited possession they received. An interesting half of football - 24 points in the first twenty minutes before a total lack of points right up to the break. As mentioned earlier, it's still anyone's game but one would think that the Rabbitohs' lack of attacking prowess will cost them here and the second-placed Sea Eagles look set to go on with the job.

Stay tuned, the second half is just around the corner.

40 min: We're underway in the second half, the Rabbitohs will earn first possession.

45 min: Some fairly end to end play to begin the second half from both sides. Manly maintain their 12 point lead.

49 min: VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Souths try to Issac Luke - checking the grounding or if he has been held up. Decision Pending... TRY!

50 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs Isaac Luke fools everyone from dummy half and despite the attention of Anthony Watmough grounds the ball on the line and the gap closes to six. Conversion attempt by Joe Williams successful. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 18-12

53 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs The Bunnies are back - this game is wide open now as Sutton scores and the conversion from Williams becomes the leveller. 18 all

59 min: The Bunnies with back to back sets again as the Eagles' discipline seems to be dropping. Souths now on the attack and looking to snatch the lead.

66 min: Manly's defence continues to hold as Souths dominate possession but seemingly have lost their ability to score points again.

70 min: Glenn Hall turns the ball over giving Souths ample field position.

71 min: VIDEO REFEREE for a possible South Sydney try to Fetuli Talanoa - Decision Pending... TRY!

72 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs A brilliant kick ahead puts Talanoa in for the Rabbits and the South Sydney side appear to have a stolen a massive come-from-behind victory here. They have seven minutes to hold the Eagles out and move one step closer to that historic finals berth. Conversion attempt by Joe Williams successful. South Sydney Rabbitohs 24-18

75 min: Manly now to go on the attack here with under five minutes remaining after a failed intercept attempt by the Bunnies.

79 min: Manly will have one last throw of the dice from inside their own half...

FULLTIME South Sydney Rabbitohs 24 Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 18 The Rabbitohs have kept the Manly side scoreless in the second half to record a historic victory tonight at Telstra Stadium.