Nail-biter of a clash provides great entertainment

In a game that was the perfect way to start the 2011 NRL season, the Sydney Roosters have defeated the South Sydney Rabbitohs 40-29.

The Roosters, who ran away with the game, leading 28-6 thought all was high and dry, but a fantastic comeback from the Bunnies, on the back of a solid effort from halfback Chris Sandow, saw them draw level at 28-all, before some errors cost them, and the Roosters again, ran away with the clash.

With the scores tied at 28-all, Sandow slotted home a field goal in the 73rd minute, and the stadium erupted with cheers, despite the field goal perhaps coming too early, and that proved to be the case.

The fairytale wasn’t to be though, with the Roosters scoring two late tries, one off the back of a short kick-off that caught the Bunnies by surprise, and the other off a Dave Taylor error.

It was a scathing half-time team talk by Bunnies coach John Lang, but it seemed to have the desired effect, as the Bunnies clicked into gear in the second half, despite conceding first, courtesy of a Sam Perrett try.

The Bunnies had no luck with injuries however, with Ben Lowe going off with a calf strain, Sam Burgess going off with a shoulder injury, and Scott Geddes going off with a ruptured achilles, leaving Souths with just 1 man on the bench for most of the second half.

With the Bunnies suffering the three injuries, there was a bit more controversy, with Souths having 14 men on the field for a period of about 20 seconds, a feat which is expected to cost them about $10,000.

“We discussed at halftime that the only way we’d let them in was our discipline and that was probably spot on,” said Anasta, the Roosters giving away six straight penalties during the Rabbitohs comeback.

“The character we showed … it showed where we’re at as a team and we’ve come a long way.”

Despite the comeback in the second half, Lang still saw many areas of improvement, and lambasted his side for their poor first-half performance.

“The comeback was great but there was a lot of bad stuff amongst it as well,” Lang said.

“I thought we played well for 20 minutes then we went right off the boil, we came back in and then I thought we went soft at the end when they got that ball back, we just didn’t drive it home, we just let things happen.

“It’s the first game of the season but we’re doing the same things we did last season – it’s the sort of thing we did last year and it’s something we’ve got to overcome.”

Dally M Points System.

3 Mitchell Pearce
2 Tom Symonds
1 Braith Anasta

SYDNEY ROOSTERS 40 (T Symonds 2 B Anasta J Leilua A Minichiello F Nuuausala S Perrett tries B Anasta 6 goals) SOUTH SYDNEY 29 (G Inglis N Merritt E Pettybourne C Sandow J Sutton tries C Sandow 4 goals C Sandow field goal) at Sydney Football Stadium. Referees: Tony Archer, Alan Shortall.

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