The Sydney Roosters have defeated their bitter rivals South Sydney by 20-18 in front of a sell-out crowd at Allianz Stadium tonight.
The Tricolours showed tremendous pride and effort to rally from 10-0 down early in the match, to storm home to collect a courageous win that coach Trent Robinson will hope propels their 2023 season after a flat start following their opening two games.
It was a night to remember for Roosters winger Jaxson Paulo, who returned to haunt his former club with two quick tries in the second half to swing the game in his sides favour.
Another chapter to the ‘Book of Feuds' was added late in the game, when Roosters centre Joey Manu was sent to the Sin Bin for a reckless tackle. Following a heated melee from both sides, Rabbitohs backrower Michael Chee Kam also joined him for being third man in and looked to deliver a sneaky jab to the Roosters centre's eye.
Led by inspirational skipper James Tedesco who was superb in the second half, the Roosters now move into the Top 8 heading into Round 4, as the competition heavyweights made a big statement in a bruising game of rugby league.
It was the Bunnies who fired the first shot, when explosive backrower Keaon Koloamatangi crashed over for the first try collecting a neat flat pass off Lachlan Ilias close to the line. Latrell Mitchell converted, and it was 6-0.
He was billed as the big game player pre-match, and Latrell Mitchell proved it once again when the Kangaroos star threw a superb cut out ball for Alex Johnston to race away to score down the left edge. Mitchell missed the conversion, but the Rabbitohs had flown out of the blocks to lead 10-0 after less than fifteen minutes.
South Sydney continued to dominate the tempo of the match in the first half, with Cody Walker's kicking game on point as he earned three repeat sets in quick succession.
It wasn't until five minutes before halftime, when Brandon Smith made a big statement for his new team from the bench. The nuggety hooker took a dart out of dummy half and sliced through to score and swing the momentum. Sam Walker missed the conversion, but the Roosters felt pretty good only being down by six points despite having limited possession.
The Roosters then made it back-to-back tries, as Luke Keary placed a superb chip kick for a flying Daniel Tupou to score. Walker converted the try to make it 10 all nearing the break.
In the last play of a phrenetic first half, the Roosters were penalised in front of the posts, when Sam Walker was ruled offside. Mitchell took to gift two points on offer to give his side a 12-10 lead at halftime.
The match continued to see-saw in the second half until Roosters hit the lead, after Jaxson Paulo scoring a double to extend the Rabbitohs lead to 20-12 with twelve minutes left on the clock.
Drama ensued late with both Manu and Chee-Kam sent to the Sin Bin late, before Souths winger Izaac Thompson caused a major boil over, when he scored a late try off a neat pass from Campbell Graham to give Souths a heartbeat.
With seconds on the clock, Mitchell attempted an ambitious two point field goal, however unfortunately for South Sydney it fell short, and the Roosters held on for a deserved victory in front of their delirious fans.
South Sydney now turn their attention to Accor Stadium in Round 4 where they face an in form Manly side next Saturday night. The Tricolours can lick their wounds as they welcome the bye and will enjoy a week off.