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Rabbitohs win first official game at NSWRL Centre of Excellence

The first ever official match at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence took place on Monday night between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.

Unfortunately, the game was abandoned due to Bulldogs five-eighth Emily Rains sustaining a very serious leg injury and the NSWRL had a duty of care given the seriousness of the situation.   

A penalty gave the Bulldogs the first try-scoring opportunity of the game and almost scored in that attacking set. Quincy Dodd put a perfect grubber in for her winger and Margot Vella went close to getting the ball down, but the touch judge ruled a knock on.

The game was only 11 minutes old when the big hit of the night was confirmed. South Sydney was on the attack and were making metres down their left edge before all momentum was stopped when Christine Pauli ran into a Sarah Togatuki and Emily Rains brick wall that shook up the whole of Sydney Olympic Park.

Leanne Toomalatai put herself in the history books for being the first ever try-scorer at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence. Bulldogs halfback Dodd threw a nice cut-out ball to put fullback Haneen Zreika on the outside of her defender before a simple catch and pass for Toomalatagi to race down the left sideline, evade the Rabbitohs fullback and score.

The Rabbitohs hit back almost immediately with an incredible show of strength by captain Ellie Johnston. It was last tackle and the Bulldogs had an extra player in defence on the short side but that did not faze the second-rower who charged onto the ball, did not think about passing or kicking and brutally forced her way over the line.

A beautiful sideline conversion from Arabella McKenzie locked up the scores, and the Rabbitohs were able to keep the 6-all halftime score despite some last-second desperation from the Bulldogs.

The Rabbitohs were first to score in the second half when Ateca Grace Uluiburotu hit a gap perfectly and bullied her way over, before the pink-and-green began to get some momentum when a strong carry from Christine Pauli on the first tackle of the kick-off set earned her side a penalty.

The saddest part of the match came of the ensuing set however when Emily Rains got awfully caught up in a tackle and unfortunately had to be stretchered off the field with a very serious leg injury.  

The game was then called off with Rabbitohs were up 12-6 at the time with the NSWRL officials giving them the result as it stands.  

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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