A golden point field goal to young halfback Lachlan Ilias has steered the Rabbitohs a 13-12 win over the Sea Eagles on an emotional night at Accor Stadium.
With scores locked 12-12 at the end of a draining 80 minutes, a Manly mistake in the first set of golden point gave Ilias his chance and he did not disappoint.
After absorbing plenty of early pressure the Sea Eagles found space on the left side but Campbell Graham muscled up in defence to take Reuben Garrick into touch before Manly’s Brad Parker returned the favour on Izaac Tu’itupou Thompson.
In the 13th minute of the match the crowd rose to their feet for a minute of applause in honour of Rabbitohs legend John Sattler, who passed away this week at the age of 80.
The Rabbitohs opened the scoring in the 23rd minute when Cody Walker produced a miraculous put-down inches from the dead ball line after chasing a Damien Cook grubber. Latrell Mitchell converted for 6-0.
A mistake by Jacob Host on the first set after points gave Manly a chance to hit back and it was Haumole Olakau’atu flying high to pull down a Daly Cherry-Evans kick with one hand and touching down to make it 6-6.
After having a try to Tom Trbojevic denied on a tight forward pass call the Sea Eagles then got across the line in the 35th minute but Tolu Koula spilled the ball in a last-ditch tackle by Isaiah Tass.
In the shadows of half-time Cherry-Evans intercepted a Cameron Murray pass on his own side of halfway and went the distance to give the Sea Eagles a 12-6 lead at the break.
Some slick passing by Cameron Murray and Lachlan Ilias gave Walker some space in the 50th minute and he dragged Parker over the line with him to get the Rabbitohs back within two points.
The Sea Eagles then took control of field position and forced Souths to come off their own line for several sets before a mistake by Christian Tuipulotu gave the Rabbitohs a sniff and a high tackle penalty gave Mitchell the chance to tie it up at 12-12.
With 50 seconds to play Mitchell had a shot at field goal but he hit it poorly and Manly worked their way down field for Cherry-Evans to have a shot and his kick was charged down and the match headed to golden point.
A dropped ball by Josh Aloiai in Manly’s first set in golden point handed Souths a golden opportunity and Ilias stood tall with the first field goal of his career to hand the Rabbitohs a 13-12 win against the same club Sattler had played in the 1970 grand final when he defied a broken jaw to lead his team to the premiership.