All good things come to an end, they say.
And it did today for the New Zealand Warriors as they went down to the South Sydney Rabbitohs 38-28 at the Sydney Football Stadium. After a run of five wins, try as they might, they simply couldn’t muster up another win. Though, they did come close, as with eight minutes to go, trailing by ten, they hit the comeback road full of renewed vigour with a try to Lewis Brown, who had darted out of dummy half to dot down five metres to the side of the right upright. With the conversion to James Maloney, they were back to within four points of South’s.
Having seemed flat physically for much of the second half, they ratcheted up the intensity, making ground through the middle of the ruck at will. South’s had had trouble for much of the match containing the Warriors go forward through the centre of the park and once again it was paying dividends for the visitors. With only four minutes remaining on the clock, they were hard on attack within metres of South’s goal line. It seemed a mere formality for the Warriors to score the match winning play. Until that is, Michael Luck, was penalised for a deliberate forward pass. It was so close, but, yet, so far, for the Warriors.
Until that late comeback, it could very much be said that this had been a game of two halves. The first being slowly but surely won by the Warriors. After forty minutes they were ten points to the good, having scored four tries to South’s two, leading 20-10. A fair effort, it has to be said, considering they were at one stage on the receiving end of a 4-0 penalty count to South’s.
Despite this, they were, like the last eight minutes, grabbing territory up the middle of the ruck with consummate ease. None more so than fullback Lance Hohaia. He continues to amaze each and every week with his ability to make ground through heavy traffic. Not only that, for such a small man in a big man’s game, he never ceases to stun with the strength that he shows in bending the back of the South Sydney defensive line, not to mention breaking it at times.
If you thought you were getting your money’s worth having seen six tries scored in the first half, then you must have been in paradise by the end of the second half, having seen another six scored. This time, though, it was South’s contributing to the majority of the attacking fare. And they badly needed too. For, with a ten point deficit at the break, their final’s chances were in peril. A loss here and they would have been in the unhealthy position of having to win at least four, maybe even five of their last six matches.
While the Warrior’s run of tough defensive efforts appeared to be catching up with them, South’s bounded along to go on a try scoring spree, putting to bed any notion that there could be an attacking recession affecting them.
A try each early in the second half to Futuli Talinoa and Beau Faloon set in motion a momentum swing in South’s favour. They were finding the scenery down their left side attack very much to their liking as they constantly raided the Warriors right side defence.
Of their five second half tries, four of them were scored in the left corner. Worrying signs for the Warriors, but, then, much better to find one has a problem six weeks out from the finals than to discover it in the pressure cooker of finals intensity football.
South’s, no doubt, were mightily excited to discover this weakness in their foe as the piled on another two tries, one of which was down the left side again, in the 57th and 66th minutes, to go out to a 32-22 lead.
Then, unfortunately for them, they hit the wall, as the Warriors started to finish the stronger of the two.
It wasn’t meant to be, though. A loss, while obviously not high on their agenda of desirable occurrences to achieve in life, may well benefit them more in the long run while reminding them of the need to refocus on the coming weeks matches.
And for South’s, they hang on and live to fight another day... just.