The South Sydney Rabbitohs claimed their ninth Jersey Flegg Cup premiership thanks to a narrow 16–14 win over the Canberra Raiders at Bankwest Stadium.
The Raiders opened the scoring early through Semi Valemei, capitalising on an error, but were down to 12 men minutes later when their fullback Harley Smith-Shields was sin binned.
The Rabbitohs capitalised quickly, as their skipper Nicholas Mougios crossed in the seventh minute and halfback Blake Taaffe scored shortly after.
Taaffe got his second in the 20th minute as the Rabbitohs extended their lead to 10 points.
Canberra hit back hard in the final 10 minutes of the half, as Valemei crossed for his second and third tries to cut the deficit to two.
The scoreline remained unchanged throughout the second half as both teams defended strongly.
In what was one of the more bizarre ways to end a game, the Raiders had a chance to level the scores after the siren had sounded.
With seconds to play, South Sydney’s Brad Zampech threw the ball into touch, as he and his team mates began to celebrate their victory.
They didn’t realise that referee Jake Sutherland had blown a penalty for a deliberate forward pass, giving Canberra the chance to send the game into extra time.
From 33 metres out, Toby Westcott’s attempt went wide and the final whistle was blown, allowing the Rabbitohs to officially celebrate their win.
Taaffe was named Man of the Match in South Sydney’s first Jersey Flegg Cup win since 1978.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 16 (Blake Taaffe 2, Nicholas Mougios tries; Blake Taaffe 2 goals) def. Canberra Raiders 14 (Semi Valemei 3 tries; Toby Westcott goal) at Bankwest Stadium. Man of the Match: Blake Taaffe (South Sydney).