Warriors crash to bottom-of-the-table Rabbitohs

South Sydney belied their bottom-of-the-table status by upsetting the New Zealand Warriors 35-28 in a National Rugby League (NRL) match in Auckland tonight.

Souths overcame an early 0-14 deficit to record just their second win in 12 matches this season and also end a 12-match losing streak against the Warriors dating back to 1999.

Kiwis Issac Luke and Roy Asotasi were among their best, while halfback Chris Sandow showed plenty of promise in his first-grade debut and sealed victory with a field goal in the final minute.

For the Warriors, winger Michael Crockett grabbed a hat-trick of tries and veteran prop Ruben Wiki put in a determined effort on his return to the NRL.

But the home side were left to rue their failure to push on after a fine start.

The Warriors came out of the blocks at speed, playing mistake-free football for the entire first quarter.

They scored after just three minutes, a great cutout pass from second rower Epalahame Lauaki putting Crockett over in the corner.

They went further ahead when a Grant Rovelli kick resulted in fullback Patrick Ah Van crossing for a try he converted.

From the kickoff, the Warriors worked the ball up the field and scored again, this time with Crockett benefiting from a Nathan Fien kick.

At 14-0 up, the home side seemed to be running away with the match.

Instead, they suddenly fell away, with mistakes beginning to punctuate their game, and they allowed the Rabbitohs to breach their line three times before the interval.

Firstly, NRL debutant Jamie Simpson scored after being first to react when the ball went to ground during a Souths attack.

Secondly, a superb dummy by five-eighth John Sutton created a huge hole for centre Fetuli Talanoa to go through.

The Rabbitohs then hit the front when Luke produced a grubber than led to interchange forward Manase Manuokafoa going over.

Luke landed his third conversion to put the visitors 18-14 up at the break.

There was worse for the Warriors early in the second spell, when a skewed line dropout went to young fullback Luke Capewell, who shook off Crockett's tackle to score in the corner.

The Warriors finally awoke and stormed back with three tries in six minutes.

A Rovelli cross kick was claimed by winger Aidan Kirk, who dotted down.

From an attack directly from the kickoff, Fien showed good vision to kick to space and Crockett completed his hat-trick.

Another Fien kick then ricocheted around and it was the turn to centre Jerome Ropati to clean up and score.

But the Rabbitohs tied up the game when second rower Luke Stuart forced his way over, then hit the front again with 10 minutes to go after a Sutton break was finished off by lock Ben Lowe.

It was left to Sandow to land the final blow just before the hooter.

Warriors captain Micheal Luck cut a hugely disappointed figure after the match.

"We were a bit sloppy around the ruck at times. They made plenty of metres," Luck said.

"Twenty-eight points are enough to win a game ... I don't know, we had a few problems tonight."

Luck said Souths were more desperate than the Warriors.

"We were not desperate enough. They were on every loose ball when we should have been.

"They are a side with nothing to lose and they played like that. All their tries in the first half came from creative play.

"We started coming good in the second half then they scored two late tries, both of which were pretty soft."

The emotions of his Souths opposite, Asotasi, were naturally more buoyant.

"The main talk was to come out here with the right attitude and hang in there. That's what we did," Asotasi said.

"The Warriors kept coming at us but the main thing was that we stayed positive.

"They got us on the back foot early but the boys hung in there. It's a tough game and if they keep coming at you, you have to keep your heads up. The boys did that."

- NZPA

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