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NZ Warriors' NSW Cup comeback falls short

Freddy Lussick NZ Warriors rugby league
Freddy Lussick faces a ban after his sending off in the NSW Cup. PHOTO: FREDDY LUSSICK

A poor first half left the NZ Warriors' New South Wales Cup team too much catching up to do against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.


South Sydney profited from a glut of first half possession, leading by 12 points at halftime before holding off the Warriors 26-20 in Saturday's Round 5 NSW Cup contest at Sydney's Accor Stadium.



After Ben Farr had dramatically opened the scoring for the Warriors inside the first minute, the Rabbitohs turned the match on its head with four tries in the space of 15 minutes to leap to a 22-6 lead.


For 17 minutes and nine sets, the Warriors did not even touch the ball and it would tell as the Rabbitohs survived a gritty comeback from the visitors.


That the Warriors had the chance to win the match in the end seemed inconceivable given the numbers which showed the Rabbitohs dominating possession 61 percent to 39 percent. That was reflected in the Warriors making almost 100 more tackles than their opponents.


Yet, they found a way back into the contest, initially through a try to highly-promising centre Sio Kali in the 33rd minute to leave the side 22-10 adrift at halftime.



Just a minute into the second half the margin was down to eight, with a try to right wing Edward Kosi and eight minutes later it was 22-20 when centre Moala Graham-Taufa scored and Farr converted.


Momentum was with the Warriors. They did not want for opportunities to take the lead but, ultimately, a 64th minute try to South Sydney halfback Lachlan Illias sealed the deal.


The match ended controversially when Warriors hooker Freddy Lussick was sent off in the final minute after attempting to charge down a kick from Ilias. The incident sparked a melee which also saw Graham-Taufa sin-binned.


The six-point loss leaves the Warriors with 2-0-3 record from the first five rounds. They face the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles, with the same record, at Auckland's Go Media Stadium Mt Smart on Saturday (kick-off 2.40pm).



Meanwhile, torrential rain in Sydney forced the postponement of the Warriors’ scheduled Round 5 Jersey Flegg Cup (under-21) clash against the Rabbitohs in Sydney on Saturday.


The match was due to be played at Erskineville Oval but the NSW Rugby League made the decision on Friday morning to postpone.


Flooding and weather warnings were in place as a major rain event unfolded across Sydney and New South Wales, with 100ml of rain forecast for Friday and Saturday. The match has been rescheduled for the weekend of May 18-19.  


In Round 6, the Warriors host Manly at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart on Saturday (kick-off 12.45pm).


In Week 1 of the Harold Matthews Cup (under-17) finals, the Warriors face the Parramatta Eels in an elimination match at Sydney's Leichhardt Oval on Saturday (kick-off 12pm NZT).

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