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The South Sydney Rabbitohs have pulled off a miraculous comeback victory to defeat the New Zealand Warriors 22-16 at Mt Smart Stadium today.
Reduced to a three-man bench, and made to do a mountain of defence well into the second half, the South Sydney side looked ready to cave-in when trailing 16-12 with less than 15 minutes remaining. But a 90-metre sprint from winger Fetuli Talanoa, against the run of play, put Souths in front in the 68th minute.
Leaping high to a cross-field kick from Warriors veteran Stacey Jones, Talanoa raced through a gap on his own 10-metre line and took off down the left flank, eventually scoring under the posts. The subsequent conversion from Chris Sandow put the visitors in front for the first time.
Talanoa bagged two tries overall, including a controversial penalty try in the first half. Replays support Talanoa's case that he was checked and then tackled by Warriors defender Aiden Kirk as the two contested the chase for the ball.
The Warriors took command of the early stages, running in two tries to lead 12-0 after just 13 minutes. The Rabbitohs struck back with a double to make it 12-all in the 26th minute.
A try to fullback Wade McKinnon on the stroke of half time gave the Warriors a 16-12 lead at the break.
The second half saw numerous attacking raids from the Warriors, but desperate defence kept Souths in the match.
Talanoa's runaway try was backed up seven minutes later by a trademark Nathan Merritt try in the dying stages of the match. The South Sydney side finishing strongly against the odds.
The Rabbitohs' victory has come at a cost with rookie Luke Capewell being forced from the field in the first half. Initial reports indicate that he has a broken tibia.
Match Details South Sydney Rabbitohs 22 def New Zealand Warriors 16 Round 4 - April 5th, 2009 12:00pm Venue: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland Crowd: 19,386 Referee: Tony De Las Heras & Gavin Badger Sideline Officials: Adam Devcich & Steve Carrall Video Referee: Chris Ward Half time: Warriors 16-12
New Zealand Warriors 16 Tries: Aiden Kirk, Michael Luck, Wade McKinnon Goals: Denan Kemp (2/3) South Sydney Rabbitohs 22 Tries: Luke Capewell, Fetuli Talanoa (2), Nathan Merritt Goals: Chris Sandow (3/4)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Michael Luck (Warriors) 2 Points: Fetuli Talanoa (Rabbitohs) 1 Point: John Sutton (Rabbitohs)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Teams (as named during the week): WARRIORS: 1. Wade McKinnon 2. Denan Kemp 3. Patrick Ah Van 4. Jerome Ropati 5. Aidan Kirk 6. Joel Moon 7. Stacey Jones 8. Sam Rapira 9. Ian Henderson 15. Russell Parker 11. Simon Mannering 12. Jacob Lillyman 13. Micheal Luck (c) Interchange: 14. Nathan Fien 16. Jesse Royal 17. Ukuma Ta