Almanac Rugby League – Rabbitoh in the vineyard




As one of the thousands of long suffering South Sydney members, I am well accustomed to false dawns, and a general uneasiness whenever the Bunnies go into any match as favourites – whether with the TAB, and / or the tipping gurus in the print and electronic media.

Admittedly, there have not been too many times recently, or even not so recenty, when we have carried the favourite’s tag!

The minor premiership year of 1989 is a fading memory …

Such was the feeling though as Souths lined up for the round five clash with the pre season favourites, the Tigers. It was the ‘men of league’ round Sunday 3pm afternoon clash between two traditional rivals. Unfortunately, a Sunday afternoon flight from Brisbane to Adelaide, then a connecting taxi ride from Adelaide airport to the Barossa Valley courtesy of my father in law meant little opportunity for any coverage.

At moments like this, again I bemoan the NRL’s lack of a complete season schedule, AFL style.

We land in Adelaide, and I immediately reach for the phone, and the South Sydney twitter feed. Strangely, as we circled before we landed, I felt an immediate nervousness.  My fears were realised as I discovered the progressive score was 10 – 4 in the Tigers favour. Tight game, unusually so, maybe we were still some outside chance? I slumped further into the plush Virgin Australia seat as a converted try to Ayshford made the score 16 – 4 to the Tigers. Game over, I thought.

By the time we were downstairs at the baggage area, the livewire Isaac Luke had scored his second try for the afternoon, and the 25 year old rookie Andrew Everingham had scored a converted try – a sideline conversion from the rookie half back Adam Reynolds to even things up at 16 all. Reynolds also had a rushed field goal attempt in the 80th minute.

It all happens when one is following the last four minutes of an NRL match in the Adelaide airport!

Time for the iphone to come into its own for golden point extra time with the 2GB continuous call team app as we walked towards my father in law’s car …

I hear Andrew Moore and one of Balmain’s favourite sons Steve ‘Blocker’ Roach call the wobbly 82nd minute field goal of Greg Inglis, that Queensland Origin player from Kempsey, NSW (thanks John Ribot!).

There is jubilation for me in this AFL heartland!

Souths have won an absolute nail biter 17 – 16!

I am so jubilant I send an email to 2GB, sending greetings from the Adelaide airport carpark and ‘Glory glory to South Sydney’!

As we wind through the streets of Adelaide, having delivered a first communion present to my wife’s Godson in Glenelg, I hear Andrew Moore read out my message. I sense not many locals would be listening, even on

We arrive at the family home at Vine Vale in the Barossa Valley, via Tanunda for some take away Pizza. There is an abundant choice of quality red wine to enjoy with the pizza.

Call me old fashioned, but I have never been a fan of golden point.

Souths and the Tigers have produced some remarkable finishes in recent times.

Nathan Merritt landed a field goal at the SCG v Tigers in 2009 for another epic win, 23 – 22. Rhys ‘Joe Montana’ Wesser threw a ‘flat’ pass for Dylan Farrell to score his third try on debut for another golden point win (34 – 30) v Tigers in 2010.

Life is good for this Rabbitoh in the vineyard.




The new ARL commission certainly have a full agenda, however as we prepared to leave the glorious Barossa Valley after many fine wines and some outstanding food, again I bemoan the lack of a full NRL season schedule.

It is match day for Souths on Good Friday. I have been for a morning run, down Stockwell Road towards Vintner’s restaurant, close to Saltram’s winery. My 2012 running kit includes my ‘Michael Maguire Souths training shorts’.

(A story for another time)

Of course, Good Friday in the Barossa means a church service. For us, at St Petri in Nuriootpa.

Souths are playing a 4pm Good Friday match at the Olympic stadium in Sydney against the Des Hasler coached Bulldogs.

Our flight home to Brisbane, via Melbourne leaves Adelaide airport at 4:40pm. With the 30 minute time difference, I will be able to follow some of the first half.

I feel mislead, almost let down, by my friends at 2GB.

2GB are only crossing to Joel Caine at Homebush for updates, no live call of the 4pm match, only of the Broncos – Tigers clash at 7:30pm. 2GB continuous call app not required … relegated to 18th man duties.

I try to log on to the ABC grandstand call, with David ‘thirsty’ Morrow. I cannot connect with the ABC on my iphone!

I am back to the Souths twitter feed as our daughters eat Hungry Jacks, and Heidi and I enjoy a coffee in Adelaide airport. I am in no hurry to board the plane. I have a good vibe following the golden point win last Sunday at the airport!

Early it’s 4 – 0 to the Dogs, then we hit back with a converted try to the ‘hair’ Matt King. Stagg scores beside the posts, never a good sign, and it’s 10 – 6 to Hasler’s mob. The try scoring machine Andrew Everingham scores just before half time – by this time we are queuing to show our boarding passes for the short flight to Melbourne. An alert man smiles as I say to Heidi as we are walking to the door: ‘We’re in front 12 – 10 at half time!’

Not long into the flight, the captain announces that purely as a precaution, the plane is going to have to return to Adelaide for safety reasons. A loose latch has opened somewhere, no danger, only a precaution. Many passengers are clearly unimpressed.

I am quite pleased at this prospect however – as I will get the full time score when we touch back down in Adelaide!

Upon landing in Adelaide again, I learn via the Souths twitter feed it is full time South Sydney 18 – Bulldogs 10! We have not conceded a point in the second half! And another try to Everingham in his debut season.

Again, I am reasonably certain there are no other members of the South Sydney faithful on this flight from Adelaide to Melbourne to share this sense of satisfaction with!

We have had back to back wins!

We are an hour late into Melbourne, and the connecting flight to Brisbane has Foxtel. I watch the highlights every fifteen minutes on Foxsports news, over and over again … only for two hours, or so!

We arrive in Brisbane after 10:30pm on Good Friday night.

It has been a better than good Good Friday!

This Rabbitoh is no longer in the vineyard, however we are now three and three heading across the ditch to Isaac Luke’s homeland for round seven this Sunday.

Russel Hansen, Brisbane, April 2012

About Nick Tedeschi

Nick Tedeschi was the chief rugby league writer at Punting Ace for five years after a career in politics and bookmaking. He has written freelance for a number of organisations including Back Page Lead, Crikey and Betfair and now runs his own website. He writes an annual NRL betting preview and is a diehard Canterbury fan who lists Craig Polla-Mounter, David Stagg, Tony Grimaldi and Daryl Halligan as his favourite players.

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