South Sydney Rabbitohs 34-26 Manly Sea Eagles: Bunnies edge bruising thriller to reach NRL preliminary finals

By Sports Desk September 20, 2019

Cameron Murray scored key tries late in each half as South Sydney Rabbitohs overcame a heroic effort from Manly Sea Eagles to triumph 34-26 at ANZ Stadium and reach the NRL preliminary finals for a second successive year.

Manly have exceeded all expectations under Des Hasler this year and could be hugely proud of their performance in a pulsating and bruising semi-final featuring multiple swings in momentum.

Yet it was the Rabbitohs who ultimately prevailed as John Sutton and Murray crossed inside the final 13 minutes with Jake Trbojevic in the sin bin for Manly.

The Sea Eagles also saw Brad Parker yellow-carded in a frantic second half, while the hosts were hampered by the loss of three players - Alex Johnston, Adam Doueihi and Sam Burgess - to head injuries.

Souths are likely to be particularly concerned over the availability of Johnston as they prepare to face Canberra Raiders for a place in the Grand Final, after the wing came off worse in a sickening clash of heads with team-mate Doueihi as Jack Gosiewski crossed to put Manly ahead for a third time.

Prior to that, Moses Suli had played a starring role, producing powerful hand-offs to assist one try and score another as the Sea Eagles erased a 10-0 deficit to move into the box seat. 

The Bunnies had Cody Walker sin-binned for striking Gosiewski in the first period, which ended with them leading 18-16 courtesy of Murray's first try in the 40th minute.

Both regular-season meetings between these sides had been decided by a solitary point and this contest remained similarly tight after the interval.

Suli's score put Manly back in front, but Adam Reynolds pulled the Bunnies level with a penalty after Parker was yellow-carded for a cynical trip and Souths took advantage when Manly were reduced to 12 men for a second time, Trbojevic having pulled Dane Gagai back off the ball.

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