It was the literal game of two halves as South Sydney Rabbitohs held on 32-30 against New Zealand Warriors in the first game of day two of Magic Round.
Neither team will be happy with their performance tonight. Rabbitohs surged into a huge lead before they allowed a Warriors side that has been a sieve to stage a comeback which almost was magical. The Rabbitohs strong first half was enough to secure a vital two points.
South Sydney Rabbitohs will relish the first half after their near faultess performance to lead 26-6 before burning the second half tape after almost conceding a magical comeback to a downtrodden New Zealand Warriors side. Cody Walker was the star after taking the captain's armband and set up a majority of the Rabbitohs points.
Coming off their loss last week, Rabbitohs were sparkling in attack. In their first four visits to the Warriors end, they found the tryline each time. Taane Milne found the line twice before it was the turn of the other winger Alex Johnston to make it 14-0.
Next, Walker provided a wonderful kick to find fullback Blake Taafe to stretch the advantage to 20. Rabbitohs looked much more like the side which were in the Grand Final last year and were pulling apart a shambolic Warriors outfit who have leaked points for fun.
There was one final moment of magic in the first half. Damien Cook showed off his strength after the Rabbitohs recovered the ball from a chargedown and slammed the ball down to make it 26-0. Warriors did get some late joy through Marcelo Montoya to reduce the deficit to 20.
It looked like the rampage would continue in the second half when halfback Lachlan Ilias finished off a left hand raid started by Johnston. Ilias was denied a globetrotter style four-pointer earlier in the half when he was judged to knock on.
Past the hour mark, Warriors got themselves in double digits when Adam Pompey was on-hand in the corner. When Jazz Tevaga burrowed over from close range to make it 32-18, there was a flicker of hope for the kiwi side to make a comeback.
That flicker turned into a forest fire mid-season recruit Daejan Asi sliced through some feeble defence to cut the deficit to eight then it was quickly followed by Montoya completing his brace in the final two minutes.
The scene was set for a grandstand finish after Reece Walsh kicked five from five at the tee to make it 32-30. Shaun Johnson tried a long range two-point field to take it to extra time but it was charged down and the game ended in an unsuccessful challenge.
So the Warriors showed some grit and desire to get within one score but again, they are inconsistent in their application to the game. For the Rabbitohs, it is the classic game of two halves that the proud side will need to fix up if they want to challenge this season.