South Sydney have staged a miracle comeback from 28-4 down early in the second half to defeat North Queensland 29-28 at Dairy Farmers in front of 15,631 fans.
This was the game in which Craig Wing made his comeback and after a slow start he certainly warmed to the task providing the bunnies with the extra spark that has been missing all season.
North Queensland ran with a strong breeze in the first half and they defended very well in the first five minutes with Souths doing all the attacking. At their first foray up the field Ray Cashmere barged over to open the scoring. Three minutes later they were in again with a wide ball to John Williams setting up a 12-0 lead after ten minutes. The Cowboys were not able to score again in the first half despite a few close calls but they were without doubt the more enthusiastic and enterprising team.
Souths got on the board in the 32nd minute when Roy Asotasi busted the defence off an Isaac Luke ball and Roy showed exceptional speed to race 60 metres to score for the half time scoreline of 12-4. Carl Webb left the field in the first half with ankle problems (did not return) and Steve Southern showed courage to play on with a shoulder injury which he finally succumbed to in the last quarter.
To start the second half North Queensland revived their sneaky kick off plays from last weeks game against Melbourne and they regained the ball with Sutton unable to handle. This set up an astonishing seven minutes in which North Queensland would score three tries. Firstly Faumuina made a charge and simply handed off to Ashley Graham who fell over the line to score.
Four minutes later they capitalised on a Souths mistake with Mark Henry running at will to send Ben Harris over. Next Watts made a great last tackle chip and chase play after being rushed by the defence before regaining and sending a long pass out to Ashley Graham for his second try. This made the score 28-4 and Souths looked gone.
Then the miracle began. On the back of a lot of ball and penalties the bunnies put on three tries of their own in eight minutes to get within six. Sandow and Simpson put Talanoa over in the corner, then Wing backed up a Faalogo break before dummying past the fullback to score. Next Champion stepped inside after a nice pass by Sandow with the Cowboys at sixes and sevens. Luke converted all three tries, two from difficult positions to set up a grandstand finish.
For the next 12 minutes both teams squandered scoring chances and Watts sprayed a field goal attempt in the 72nd minute. Souths made their way to the other end and Greenfield was held up before Wing sent Capewell on a shimmy run out wide and he scored with some neat elusiveness and slight of hand. Luke converted again from out wide and the scores were level.
For the next five minutes both teams completed but Souths had the territorial advantage and in the last minute Souths were throwing it about frantically before finally Sandow potted the winning field goal. This was not the last of the drama however with Souths dropping the ball from the kickoff and then conceding a differential penalty at the scrum for offside right in front of the posts. No attempt at goal allowed but the Cowboys set up a field goal attempt that Souths were able to block and set up their second one point win in a week and third win on the trot. The hapless Cowboys now sit very much in last place whilst Souths overtake the Bulldogs to move up a rung on the ladder.
Asotasi and Luke were strong while Wing got better as the match wore on and Sandow repaid the faith shown by coach Taylor with a fine performance.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 29 Tries: Roy Asotasi, Fetuli Talanoa, Craig Wing, Beau Champion, Luke Capewell Field Goals: Chris Sandow (1/1) Goals: Issac Luke (4/5) North Queensland Cowboys 28 Tries: Ray Cashmere, John Williams, Ashley Graham (2), Ben Harris Goals: John Williams (4/5)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
COWBOYS 1. Anthony Watts, 2. Mark Henry, 3. Ashley Graham, 4. Ben Harris, 5. John Williams, 6. Sione Faumuina, 7. Chris Sheppard, 8. Ray Cashmere, 9. Aaron Payne, 10. Carl Webb, 11. Nick Slyney, 12. Scott Bolton, 13. Steven Southern. Reserves: 14. Brandon Boor, 15. Ben Vaeau, 16. Greg Byrnes, 17. Shane Tronc RABBITOHS 1. Luke Capewell, 2. Nathan Merritt, 3. Jamie Simpson, 4. Beau Champion, 5. Fetuli Talanoa, 6. Craig Wing, 7. Chris Sandow, 8. Scott Geddes, 9. Issac Luke, 10. Roy Asotasi, 11. Luke Stuart, 12. David Fa'alogo, 13. John Sutton Reserves: 14. George Ndaira, 15. Shannan McPherson, 16. David Kidwell, 17. Manase Manuokafoa, 18. Ben Lowe, 19. Shannon Hegarty, 20. Michael Greenfield. (3 to be omitted).
Welcome to Dairy Farmers for the clash between the premiership ladder tailenders North Queensland and Souths. Some added flavour to the game tonight with the return of Craig Wing for Souths. The Cowboys will miss Johnathon Thurston, he being on Origin duty, giving Souths a great opportunity to put three wins on the trot.
A few late changes for the Cowboys: Chris Sheppard drops out, Brandon Boor comes into the starting 13, Ben Vaeau comes from the bench to replace Nick Slyney while Sam Bowie and Matthew Bartlett come into the squad. For Souths Hegarty and Lowe drop off the extended bench.
A decent breeze happening tonight, in favour of North Queensland in the first half.
1 min: Souths kick off, and the Cowboys drop it immediately.
2 min: Merritt grabs a Sandow bomb out wide and the ref wants to check it, doesn't look like he grounded the ball though... NO TRY, dropout to follow.
3 min: Souths get a penalty in the Cowboys 22 but cannot capitalise with Wings passing looking a little rusty.
6 min: A Sutton pass goes to ground and now the Cowboys get a relieving penalty.
7 min: At the Cowboys first attacking opportunity Cashmere gets over the line and we are going upstairs...
7 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys After several minutes of defence the Cowboys get a try on the back of a penalty and some slack Souths defence with Cashmere scoring. Conversion attempt by John Williams successful. North Queensland Cowboys 6-0
10 min: Going upstairs for another Cowboys try...
10 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys From the kickoff North Queensland make a lot of metres with some great enthusiasm. They go wide with a behind the man play and Williams spins over the line to score. The Cowboys have pulled Souths pants down here. Conversion attempt by John Williams successful. North Queensland Cowboys 12-0
12 min: North Queensland on the attack again, luckily for Souths Talanoa takes an intercept with a try looking likely.
14 min: Cowboys making very easy metres with Souths not getting off their line at all, Payne gets a kick over the sideline a scrum to occur 15 from Souths line.
17 min: Souths get a relieving penalty and don't they need it, the Cowboys making good use of the breeze. Southern goes down with a shoulder injury but he's ok.
18 min: The bunnies make a good attacking raid with Wing and Champion combining. On the last Sandow's kick gets them a scrum inside the 20.
20 min: Souths bomb a try with Talanoa not handling a difficult pass with the line open.
23 min: Merritt tries a kick which deflects off a Cowboy and Souths get another set inside the 20.
24 min: Wing gets a grubber into the ingoal and Souths will get a dropout and another chance, unfortunately Capewell knocks on from the dropout.
29 min: Penalty to North Qld for a grapple, they go on the attack, but on tackle one they are pinged for a forward pass, relief for Souths.
32 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs Roy Asotasi busts the line on his own 40 and proceeds to run all the way for a great try. Conversion attempt by Issac Luke unsuccessful. North Queensland Cowboys 12-4
35 min: Again Nth Qld find the sideline with a kick, probably not the best tactic with the breeze at their back as it's giving Souths the chance to catch a breather.
36 min: Souths go wide early and throw a forward pass to put themselves under pressure.
37 min: Faumuina makes a determined run and goes very close, going to the video ref...
37 min: Penalty to Souths for a double movement, news comes through that Carl Webb has been taken to hospital with an ankle problem.
Half time: Souths looking like they expected this one to be a cake walk while North Queensland are showing good enthusiasm and enterprise, they've been unlucky not to have another try or two on the board. Souths have looked a little soft especially at long range in defence but are doing well to snuff out some wide balls with up and in defence. Craig Wing has looked a little rusty but has improved as the game has worn on and looks like he could be the danger man in the second half as Souths get the advantage of the breeze. The Cowboys will struggle into the wind with Webb gone for the night and Southern struggling with a shoulder problem.
We're underway in the second half
41 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys The Cowboys pull off a sneaky kickoff and regain the ball. They go on the attack and Faumuina charges and offloads to Ashley Graham who falls over the line to score an easy try. Poor defence by Souths. Conversion attempt by John Williams successful. North Queensland Cowboys 18-4
44 min: Sloppy play by Souths turns it over in their own half.
45 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Off the back of the Souths error Mark Henry runs at will and finds Ben Harris out wide and he scores unoppposed. Conversion attempt by John Williams unsuccessful. North Queensland Cowboys 22-4
47 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys On the last tackle Watts avoids the oncoming defence and puts in a little chip and chase, regaining beofre sending it wide to a flying Ashley Graham. Great play by the Cowboys, three tries in seven minutes may well have put this out of Souths reach. Conversion attempt by John Williams successful. North Queensland Cowboys 28-4
52 min: Going to the video ref for a Souths try...
52 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs Try to Talanoa, Souths throw it around and Sandow sends a looping pass to Simpson who puts Talanoa over in the corner. Conversion attempt by Issac Luke successful. North Queensland Cowboys 28-10
55 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs A nice ball by Sandow to Fa'alogo puts him away and Craig Wing backs up and dummies past the defence to score, Souths may be a shot yet. Conversion attempt by Issac Luke successful. North Queensland Cowboys 28-16
58 min: On the last tackle the Cowboys put a kick out on the full, Souths with another chance in the opposing 40. Now a penalty inside the 20 to Souths.
60 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs Too much ball to defend against for the Cowboys. Sandow goes wide to Champion and he steps inside several Cowboys to score. Conversion attempt by Issac Luke successful. North Queensland Cowboys 28-22
62 min: Asotasi spills it on his own 40 scrum to North Qld.
65 min: Penalty to NQ, they go on the attack again inside the 30.
66 min: Great defence this time by Souths, Merrit makes a big hit and the ball goes loose.
68 min: Stripped by NQ so now Souths get the piggyback.
68 min: Brain explosion by Sandow, he grubbers on tackle one with NQ under immense pressure, luckily the get the dropout.
69 min: Luke drops it early in the set, let off for the Cowboys. Now they drop it and Sutton puts Souths on the attack.
70 min: A woeful bomb by Souths goes dead on the full with the Cowboys reeling but defending stoutly.
72 min: Watts sprays a field goal attempt.
74 min: Greenfield goes over but is held up. tackle 2.
76 min: Souths complete and get a good deep kick away.
77 min: Cowboys complete, Souths start the set on their own 30. Talanoa loses the ball but it's a strip, penalty to the bunnies.
78 min: Souths on the Cowboys 20 on tackle 2.
79 min: Six more to Souths.
80 min: Souths drop the ball from the kickoff! 7 seconds left.
80 min: Differential penalty to the Cowboys right in front!
80 min: The Cowboys find touch and setup a field goal attempt. Watts has a go but Souths scramble and block it what a finish!