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The Rabbitohs have got their finals aspirations back on track with a hard-fought 28-6 victory over the Warriors in the wet at Go Media Stadium, Auckland on Friday night. 

A double to Alex Johnston and try to NRL debutant Tyrone Munro set up victory for the visitors, who held their nerve to overcome an early deficit and then go on to score 28 unanswered points. 

It wasn't necessarily desperate stages for the Bunnies, who were eighth coming into the match after dropping four of their past five games, but Jason Demetriou's men had to show some grit after conceding over 30 points in each defeat. 

Both sides completed at 100 per cent in the opening quarter of the game despite miserable conditions in New Zealand but it was the Rabbitohs who took control in the final 60 minutes. 

The Warriors, on the back of a 6-0 penalty count in their favour early, crossed first on the left edge via Marcelo Montoya in the corner but couldn't capitalise on further field position as the Rabbitohs got back into the game.

AJ scores for the Bunnies

South Sydney got on the scoreboard shortly after in near identical fashion with Johnston finishing off a backline movement out wide. 

The Rabbitohs took a 12-6 lead into the break after Damien Cook and Cameron Murray took advantage of Addin Fonua-Blake being sin-binned for a high tackle by combining close to the line. 

Cook, who came off the bench in Auckland, sent his NSW teammate over next to the posts in the 38th minute for an unlikely lead given the weight of possession against the visitors in the opening half. 

Fonua-Blake binned

Johnston's second try eight minutes into the final half stretched the lead out to 10 points before Munro finished off a Lachlan Ilias kick with 14 minutes left to seal victory. 

The 18-year-old produced a try-assist to finish the match, sending fullback Blake Taaffe over the line with a kick downfield in an impressive piece of play.

It was a disappointing evening for the Warriors on home turf with Andrew Webster's side struggling with their completion rates the longer the match went on after a positive start. 

Fonua-Blake's 10-minute spell in the bin proved costly with tries to the Rabbitohs on either side of half-time in the conditions making it too great a mountain to climb for Webster's men.

Match snapshot

  • The Rabbitohs lost Campbell Graham pre-game to an ongoing sternum injury with teenager Tyrone Munro making his NRL debut in the centres. 
  • Munro had a debut to remember, scoring in the second half before setting up a try to Blake Taaffe late. 
  • The Rabbitohs scored 28 unanswered points after conceding the first of the evening while their final three tries came from the boot in the greasy conditions. 
  • The Warriors have not beaten South Sydney in Auckland since 2012 while it was the home side's biggest loss of the season. 
  • Warriors prop Addin Fonua-Blake was placed on report and sin-binned in the 33rd minute for a high tackle on Cameron Murray. 
  • Rabbitohs pair Siliva Havili and Taane Milne were both placed on report in the side's win. 
  • Rabbitohs winger Alex Johnston has now scored 12 tries in 10 games against the Warriors.
  • Warriors winger Marcelo Montoya has now scored five tries in his past five games against the Rabbitohs.
  • The Rabbitohs have now won 14 of their past 15 games against the Warriors.

Play of the game

It will be a night to remember for Tyrone Munro, who all but put the Warriors away when he latched onto a Lachlan Ilias kick to score on NRL debut. He followed it up with an assist for Blake Taaffe to ice victory.

Munro scores on debut

What they said

"It was a pretty special performance and a great few days. It's the first time in 6-7 weeks we've had the full group together. There was a real connection and enjoyment with what we were doing and that showed as the game went on. You want your players to enjoy playing footy and in the last few weeks we've probably lacked that a little bit. I thought in the first 20 minutes there was a lot of resilience. To keep turning them away was where the game was built on." - Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou.

"We're not disappointed with how hard we tried. We were going after things and trying to be assertive in defence but we weren't very smart. It's one thing to try hard but it will only get you in the contest. They were so smart and clinical. Souths didn't come here to hit it up one-out. Cody Walker was class with how they executed their plan. Execution had a big part in the win tonight for them." - Warriors coach Andrew Webster.

NRL Press Conference: Warriors v Rabbitohs - Round 18, 2023

What's next

Both sides have an eight-day turnaround each and will turn their attention to clashes in Sydney for Round 19. The Warriors clash with Parramatta at CommBank Stadium while South Sydney host the Bulldogs down the road at Accor Stadium a couple of hours later. The likes of Damien Cook and Cameron Murray are likely to miss the match due to Origin commitments while Campbell Graham (sternum) is also in doubt. 

Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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