SOUTH 17 TIGERS 16
Comeback complete ... Greg Inglis celebrates after booting the match-winner. Photo: Quentin Jones
SOUTH SYDNEY halfback Adam Reynolds said last night he was gripped by nerves as he lined up a crucial conversion from the sideline that gave the Rabbitohs an incredible escape at Allianz Stadium.
Jubilant Souths players crowded around fullback Greg Inglis after the Test star clinched a 17-16 win with a wonky field goal in extra time but, if not for the composure of 21-year-old Reynolds in the final two minutes of regular time, they would not have got to golden point.
Ben Murdoch-Masila of the Tigers is tackled during the round five NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Photo: Getty Images
Playing his fifth NRL game, Reynolds had made a meal of a straightforward conversion attempt earlier in the second half. He then found himself lining up from a much more difficult position, only five metres in from the right touchline, needing to nail the kick to square the score. The Rabbitohs had trailed 16-4 with only four minutes left in the game.
‘‘The first one was a shocker,’’ Reynolds said in his first interview since graduating to the NRL this year. ‘‘I was a bit nervous on the second one but I practise a lot during the week and, fortunately, I hit it well and it went over.
‘‘There was a bit of pressure but you practise that at training. I get all the boys geeing me up at training and putting a bit of pressure on me. It’s another kick, but there was a bit of pressure on.’’
Tim Moltzen of the Tigers scores an early try against South Sydney Rabbitohs Photo: Getty Images
A former Toyota Cup under-20s star, Reynolds has been kept in cotton wool in a publicity sense this season by Souths coach Michael Maguire, with the 82kg half walking in the shoes of the departed Chris Sandow.
There would be no hiding in front of 25,608 fans yesterday and, put to the test, the young playmaker passed with flying colours.
‘‘I think it was for the good of me, just staying quiet until I got used to it a bit more,’’ Reynolds said. ‘‘There’s still a lot of improvement in my game I need to work on. But I’m getting more comfortable every week.’’
Joel Reddy of the Tigers runs the ball during the round five NRL match Photo: Getty Images
Maguire was impressed enough to lift the media ban on his rookie No.7. ‘‘He’s growing, little Reyno,’’ the coach said. ‘‘He’s working really hard and you’ve got to remember that’s his fifth game of first grade coming back from a knee reconstruction.’’
During his under-age career, Reynolds had missed a similar place kick to level a match against the Sydney Roosters. He made no mistake yesterday and nor did a more seasoned first-grade hero, Inglis.
Reynolds and halves partner John Sutton might have seemed the obvious choices to win the match with a single point, but it was Inglis who popped up, from 30 metres out, to prove he can do just about anything.
He had enjoyed a quiet game until then and, while his field goal shot was deflected before striking the left upright and the crossbar, it somehow went over. Souths captain Roy Asotasi summed up the consternation as they were made to wait while referees Shayne Hayne and Gavin Morris confirmed the kick was successful: ‘‘I didn’t think it went over,’’ he said.
Inglis himself added: ‘‘I heard the pocket ref saying ‘touched’. I’ll have to see a replay. I was pushing it. I just got a bit arrogant, like I said I was just pushing towards the end. I’m just glad it went over, otherwise I would’ve looked like a fool.’’
Souths had erased a 12-point deficit in a virtual heartbeat thanks to an Issac Luke scramble from dummy half – his second of the match – and another grubber from giant Dave Taylor that was pounced on by a diving Andrew Everingham.
The last time Taylor put boot to ball like that – going on to score acrobatically himself in Souths’ round-two win over Penrith – Maguire said he was ‘‘blowing up at the time’’.
What was his reaction this time around at watching the 122kg man channel Allan Langer? ‘‘Much the same, to be honest,’’ Maguire said. ‘‘It came off again, though. I’ll talk to Dave about that one but I thought Dave actually performed really well for us.’’