South Sydneyâs Indigenous stars have orchestrated an incredible comeback after three injury concerns in the first 10 minutes.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs stars have come out in Indigenous round with an incredible reply in a six-try first half before running away with a 32-24 win over the St George Illawarra Dragons in an 11-try game.
Fittingly on the NRL’s Indigenous Round, all 32 of the Rabbitohs’ points were scored by Indigenous players with Cody Walker, Alex Johnston and Latrell Mitchell combining for the tally.
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Johnston had three tries, Walker two and Mitchell had 12 points with a try and four goals.
But the Rabbitohs didn’t have it all their own way, dropping like flies early with halfback Adam Reynolds going off early after suffering an injury that lead to the Dragons’ first try.
Campbell Murray and Liam Knight were also floored by head clashes within a brutal first 10 minutes.
It set the platform for the Dragons, who ran in three tries in the first 15 minutes to leave the Rabbitohs stunned.
After Knight’s injury, the third of the bunch, Andrew Voss said in Fox League commentary said “Things are going horribly wrong early here”.
Reynolds’ injury was the most serious of the lot with Channel 9 reporting the Rabbitohs skipper was rated a 50-50 chance of returning after the halftime break but didn’t ultimately return.
Souths coach Wayne Bennett said he was never a chance of returning with the injury, which was a burner, a nerve injury coming from trauma to the neck and head.
He dived on a loose ball and was hit hard by Tariq Sims and the ball popped out with Corey Norman streaking away before passing to Matt Dufty to finish off the opening try.
Euan Aitken then scored from close range after a bullet pass from Dufty before Aitken returned the favour.
But it was just the start of it with the Rabbitohs hitting back through Cody Walker putting in a big step to score Souths’ first.
Alex Johnston then ran 90m to score an intercept try before linking up with Latrell Mitchell for a brilliant try.
Going wide, Mitchell cut out two to find Johnston, with a kick back on the inside finding Mitchell back in the midfield to score.
The trio were also in the points in the second half and Bennett said having all the points between three Indigenous players to kick off Indigenous Round was pleasing.
“They reckon if you back horses, if you can get a horse that has self interest, put some money on them,” Bennett said in the post-match press conference. “They had a bit of self interest out there tonight and they scored all our points which is rare and probably unique in the game. They were all outstanding every one of them.”
Gutsy win by @SSFCRABBITOHS tonight #NRLDragonsSouths – every ð point scored by an indigenous Australian in #IndigenousRound #SSTID
What a great effort from Souths to come back and win that game against the @NRL_Dragons. Appropriately in the Indigenous Round it was the @SSFCRABBITOHS indigenous stars who scored every point tonight. Letâs go Rabbitohs!!! #NRLDragonsRabbitohs
16-0 down, Souths come back to defeat Dragons 32-24. Cody Walker was exceptional for Bunnies, stood up in Reynoldsâ absence. All 32 points scored by Indigenous players. #resilience #NRLDragonsSouths
What about that for 40 minutes of great rugby league!! Terrific attacking play from both sides. Dragons totally dominated the first 20 mins. Souths looked to be struggling. Cody Walker scores a brilliant individual try to spark Souths into action. 16-16 at the break. V enjoyable
Johnston opened the scoring in the second half before the Dragons hit back with a controversial grounding as Tyson Frizell appeared to ground the ball with his wrist.
But tries to Walker and Johnston’s second long-range intercept completed his hat-trick and put the game almost out of the Dragons reach.
Post-match, Dragons coach Paul McGregor ripped his own team after Johnston scored two long range intercept tries and said his side needed to “stop making excuses”.
“I don’t know how often it happens in the NRL where the same bloke gets two intercepts and runs the length, that’s 12 points,” he said. “We trained all week knowing that guy was going to come out of the line but we deliver him 12 points. Knowing and going out and doing it, it’s just disappointing.”
A last minute try to Mikaele Ravalawa gave St George a sniff but a sideline conversion from Zac Lomax slammed into the post.
“We didn’t have a half or five eighth on the bench so I had to take more control than I usually do,” Walker said on Channel 9.
“The boys just got the momentum, got the quick play the balls and we got on with the job.
“It’s not ideal that we lose our general, our halfback, he’s an important part of our team but you can’t dwell on that, it’s sad to say, you’ve just got to move on and get on with the job.”
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South Sydney Rabbitohs, St. George Illawarra Dragons, National Rugby League, Cody Walker, Alex Johnston, Adam Reynolds
World news – AU – âRare and probably uniqueâ: Souths Indigenous stars score all 32 points in win over Dragons