Paulo returns to haunt Rabbitohs as Roosters win thriller

Jaxson Paulo played a leading role in the downfall of his former club on Friday night, scoring twice to help the Roosters beat the Rabbitohs 20-18 in a typically fierce encounter between the great rivals.

A second-half double from Paulo helped lift the Tricolours to victory, but only after they survived a wild finish which saw the Rabbitohs score with two minutes to play, setting up a hail Mary two-point field goal attempt from Latrell Mitchell which fell short of the posts. 

Earlier South Sydney raced out to a 10-0 lead after 15 minutes and dominated the opening proceedings at Allianz Stadium.

It was a masterclass in interchange management from coach Trent Robinson that changed the game on 24 minutes, with the introduction of Kiwi Test stars Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Brandon Smith, who had reverted to bench roles just before kick-off, wrestling momentum in their side's favour, which included Smith scoring his team's first try. 

As predicted the opening exchanges were full of emotion, and a heavy collision on the first set saw Hame Sele leave the field for a HIA which he failed, before Joseph Sua'ali'i was placed on report. 

It didn't take long for the Rabbitohs to settle into their rhythm though, and by the time the clock hit 13 minutes they were up 10-0 thanks to tries from Keaon Koloamatangi and Alex Johnston, the first of which was converted by Mitchell.

But Smith's clever try from dummy-half, followed by a peach of a kick from Luke Keary to put Daniel Tupou over, saw the Roosters tie things up, and although a late penalty goal gave Souths a 12-10 lead at the break, the game had turned in favour of the Roosters. 

Paulo's first try five minutes into the second half gave the Roosters the lead for the first time, before his second – which followed a miraculous try-saving strip from Joey Manu minutes earlier – put them in position to close the game out. 

The Roosters survived the late comeback from the Rabbitohs to pick up their second win of the year. 

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Story first published by:

Corey Rosser - NRL Reporter