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A courageous New Zealand Warriors have held on to defeat South Sydney 26-24 in a thrilling contest in front of almost 10,500 at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland.
The Warriors started strongly, making two long breaks in their first two sets of six. They took advantage of their early dominance in just the 5th minute when Lance Hohaia, playing his 150th NRL game, sliced through to score out wide. Brett Seymour converted for a six-nil lead.
Souths however, quickly got back into the contest, with Colin Best crossing after a neat cut-out pass from John Sutton.
The teams traded tries for the remainder of the half and Souths looked to have gained the upper hand when Warriors five-eight James Maloney succumbed to a back injury. With Maloney struggling to defend on the wing the Rabbitohs swung it wide and crossed for a good try.
A try to Ropati on the stoke of half time kept the Warriors in touch and the Rabbitohs took an 18-14 lead to the break.
When Sam Rapira limped off with a knee injury just after half time it looked like the Warriors were facing an uphill battle to get back into the game. However, aided by some soft Souths defence, the Warriors scored two quick tries to Ropati and Packer to take an eight point lead.
Souths scored to cut the lead to two with 10 minutes to go
In the engrossing last stages Souths threw everything at the Warriors in an attempt to snatch the game. But poor ball handling and committed Warriors defence kept them at bay.
A highlight was shuddering hit from pint-sized winger Kevin Locke who stopped what seemed set to be a certain try from Rhys Wesser.
New Zealand Warriors 26 defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 24
National Rugby League - NRL - Round 11 - Sunday May 23, 2010 2:00pm
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
Referee: Gavin Badger and Gerard Sutton
Video Referee: Chris Ward
Touch Judges: Russell Turner and Gavin Reynolds
Halftime: New Zealand Warriors 14 South Sydney Rabbitohs 18
New Zealand Warriors (26)
Tries: Brent Tate, Lance Hohaia, Jerome Ropati (2), Russell Packer
Conversions: Brett Seymour (3/5)
South Sydney Rabbitohs (24)
Tries: Rhys Wesser, Colin Best, Fetuli Talanoa (2)
Conversions: Issac Luke (4/4)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary 1 min: First set of the game, Warriors go close to scoring after a long bust
3 min: Warriors have started the game full of running, Wesser placed on report after an ugly high tackle on a flying Kevin Locke.
5 min: TRY
Hohaia sells a dummy and slices through some soft attempted tackles to open the scoring
New Zealand Warriors 6-0
9 min: Warriors are really dominating field position and possession. They go on the attack after Souths try to run it on the last in their own half.
10 min: James Maloney is denied by the video ref after Tate ruled to knock on a pinpoint bomb.
12 min: Souths go on the attack for the first time after Ropati spills the ball returning a kick.
14 min: TRY
Colin Best finishes nicely after receiving a beautiful Sutton cut out to bring the Bunnies level.
16 min: Isaac Luke makes a long bust but Heremaia intercepts the pass that would have led to a try.
17 min: Warriors go on the attack after Luke Stuart spills the ball in a carry in his own half.
20 min: TRY
Tate scores by out-jumping Colin Best to take a pinpoint Maloney bomb. Conversion missed.
New Zealand Warriors 10-6
24 min: TRY
With James Maloney doubled over in pain defending on the wing Souths swing it wide quickly and Talanoa finishes off a smart backline move.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 12-10
28 min: Warriors go on the attack after Luke spills the ball on a dummy-half run.
31 min: Luke again spills it from dummy half, this time whilst the Rabbitohs are on the attack.
33 min: TRY
Wesser backs up and slides over under the posts after a great John Sutton offload releases Isaac Luke down the middle of the field.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 18-10
35 min: The Rabbitohs are really starting to gain ascendancy and force a repeat set. James Maloney has left the field with an injury to his back.
39 min: The Warriors have a chance right on half-time after McPherson drops the ball cold deep in his own half.
40 min: TRY
Ropati crosses right on half-time after a Rapira offload and good hands through the backline by Mannering and Seymour. Conversion missed.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 18-14
40 min: Half time sees the Rabbitohs up 18-14 in an error-riddled but entertaining match.
42 min: Second half is underway, Sam Rapira is being assisted from the field with what looks a bad knee injury
45 min: Souths dominating early in the scond half but Warriors get a relieving penalty deep in their own half.
47 min: TRY
Ropati slices through some lazy defence after a great Seymour offload to put the Warriors back in front.
New Zealand Warriors 20-18
49 min: TRY
After a penalty gives the Warriors more good field postion Packer brushes through a feeble attempted tackle to score under the posts.
New Zealand Warriors 26-18
53 min: A break from Souths comes to nothing when an inside ball from Burgess doesn't find a reciever.
57 min: The Warriors go on the attack again after Crocker spills a risky Burgess offload in his own half.
61 min: Sandow is the first to get to a pinpoint Sutton grubber in the Warriors in goal but knocks the ball on before grounding it.
64 min: Souths again make a bust down their right hand side but Champion spills the ball when the cover defence hits him.
66 min: Souths seem to be panicking in an attempt to get back into the game, with Crocker spilling the ball in a Kevin Locke tackle.
69 min: TRY
Talanoa scores after a nice Sutton inside ball releases Chris Sandow from deep in Souths territory.
New Zealand Warriors 26-24
72 min: Wesser spills the ball inches from the Warriors line after a promising attacking set from Souths.
74 min: Both sides spilling the ball as fatgue and desperation set in
78 min: Beau Champion trys to pick up a Sutton grubber on halfway but knocks on, They might get one more set.
80 min: Full Time. The Warriors have held on to win 26-24.