The new look South Sydney Rabbitohs rewarded their coaches faith in youth, by scoring an entertaining 35-28 win over the New Zealand Warriors in Auckland tonight.
The Rabbitohs looked like being blown off the park in the opening 15 minutes as the Warriors put on three tries to charge out to a 14-0 lead.
But Souths showed tremendous spirit to lead 18-14 at halftime before a see-sawing second half saw scores locked at 28-all with nine minutes remaining.
A try to lock Ben Lowe put the Rabbitohs ahead and rookie halfback Chris Sandow booted a field goal in the last minute to seal the win and snap a 12-match losing streak against the Warriors dating back to 1999.
It was a much-needed win for Taylor’s side, who have been anchored to the bottom of the NRL table and have had to endure a host of off-field dramas in recent weeks.
South Sydney’s only other win this season came in round eight against North Queensland and Taylor was understandably delighted.
â€œWe have gone through a really, really tough period and I don’t think many clubs could come out the other side of it,â€ he said.
â€œWe are probably still not completely out the other side of it, but a win like that when you are down like we were, to come back twice and win the game, shows great character and shows that the morale of the team is certainly up there.
â€œThat is not an easy thing to do when you have been through the run that we have been through.â€
Souths captain Roy Asotasi said unlike in other games his team had been able to tough it out during crucial periods.
â€œPrevious games we have just been frustrated and we have just been wasting our time you know worried about things that we could have done and should have,â€ he said.
â€œWhat we needed to do was just go out there and play the game.â€
Jamie Simpson, Fetuli Talanoa, Manase Manuokafoa, Luke Capewell and Luke Stuart also bagged tries for Souths while winger Michael Crockett scored a hat-trick for the Warriors.
Fullback Patrick Ah Van and centres Aidan Kirk and Jerome Ropati also crossed for the home side which suffered their second loss at Mt Smart Stadium this season.
Veteran prop Ruben Wiki put in a determined effort on his NRL return as the inconsistent Warriors dropped a game at home after finally winning their first away match last weekend.
Issac Luke and Roy Asotasi were among the Rabbitohs best players while Sandow showed plenty of promise in his first-grade debut.
Warriors coach Ivan Cleary said he would look to boost his defensive line-up, saying some of his players did not pull their weight in tonight’s defeat.
In his post-match press conference and sitting next to acting captain Micheal Luck, Cleary said his team were going to have problems as long as some in the squad did not perform at their best.
â€œThere are a few guys who are doing a great job, like the bloke next to me, every week. There are a few unfortunately who aren’t. Until we get the full team doing it then, we are going to have problems,â€ Cleary said.
â€œI am going to have to probably think about selecting a team with a view to defence. That is the way I am feeling at the moment.â€