Roosters stun Rabbitohs in NRL thriller
Sydney Roosters produced the ultimate NRL Houdini act with an Anthony Minichiello try 19 seconds from time securing a scarcely believable 24-20 NRL win over arch-rivals South Sydney on Monday.
The Rabbitohs looked like they had done enough to secure a season-opening win when leading 20-12 with three minutes remaining.
But the Roosters somehow conjured up back-to-back tries to snatch the win.
When Jared Waerea-Hargreaves carried four defenders over the line in the 77th minute, it seemed like little more than a consolation effort.
But a stunning last-gasp effort ensured it was far more valuable than that.
With the ball on their own 20-metre line, the Roosters first went out to the left before coming back to the right where Mitchell Aubusson put teenager Boyd Cordner away, the back-rower toeing ahead with Minichiello beating debutant Adam Reynolds in a race for the ball to shock the Bunnies faithful.
Earlier, Souths pivot John Sutton looked like he’d be the hero as he scored an individual effort just after the break to give his side an 18-12 lead, their advantage increased beyond a converted try when Reynolds added a penalty goal.
A bright start via a powerful Lama Tasi try was wasted by the Roosters when they went top sleep after conceding a penalty near their own line – Greg Inglis taking advantage with a quick tap to put Michael Crocker over untouched.
While their equaliser may have been gifted to them, the Rabbitohs lifted off the back of the good fortune.
Reynolds, having earlier put a kick out on the full, showed his confidence hadn’t been rocked when he placed one perfectly for Chris McQueen to reel in for a 10-6 lead.
Daniel Mortimer, who earned his first start for the Roosters after skipper Braith Anasta pulled out with a back injury aggravated in training, matched Reynolds’ effort with a pinpoint kick of his own as as Aidan Guerra put the Roosters back in front.
Dave Taylor’s questionable tackling technique left the South big man facing another nervous wait after an awkward lifting tackle on Boyd Cordner, Burgess and Sutton using far more conventional styles to deny Mitchell Aubusson with a try-saving tackle.
Roosters coach Brian Smith said he never gave up on his side producing a miracle.
“It was certainly looking very dim (but) I hadn’t conceded. We were still in touch,” Smith said.
Minichiello said the side never gave up – even when trailing by eight points late in the game.
“Everyone keeps mentioning we’re a young squad, but we believe in ourselves and we just kept fighting all the way til that last bell,” said Minichiello, who joined Craig Fitzgibbon and Kevin Hastings in a share of second spot in games played for the Roosters with his 228th appearance.
It was a tough NRL debut on the coach’s box for Michael Maguire, who is still searching for his first win after three trial losses preceded the round-one defeat.
“It obviously hurt there just in the end, particularly for the players,” Maguire said.
“I know how hard they’re working and they’re trying to improve in what they’re doing but unfortunately it didn’t go our way.”© AAP 2013
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