PARTY TIME: Issac Luke of the Rabbitohs celebrates with the trophy and teammates after winning the Auckland Nines.
PARTY TIME: Issac Luke of the Rabbitohs celebrates with the trophy and teammates after winning the Auckland Nines. Phil Waltergetty IMAGES

King rolls back the years as Rabbitohs win Nines

FORMER Rabbitohs centre Matt King received an official clearance from the Casino Cougars club to play for South Sydney just 48 hours before scoring the $370,000 golden try that clinched the Auckland Nines tournament.

For a player who gave the game away 12 months ago and was serving drinks behind a bar and making a living as a part-time garbage collector, King has an uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time.

The former Casino Cougars junior did it again at a packed Eden Park as last year's NRL premiers South Sydney denied a brave Cronulla a fairytale Nines victory after the 18 minute final had ended with the scores locked at 14-all.

The match went into extra-time following a sideline drop goal from Sharks youngster Valentine Holmes.

Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds, who will have scans on a hamstring that forced him from the field seconds before King's match-clincher, was named player of the tournament.

But it was the effervescent King, who sat out last year's NRL season and played one game for the Casino Cougars in the Northern Rivers competition, who was the hero.

"That was enormous. I've had 12 months out of the game. This is so much fun," said a beaming King.

"I've had the time of my life."

With Reynolds directing play, Souths roared into the final with a crushing 35-4 win over Parramatta after leading 18-0 at half time, while Cronulla had a tight win over the Roosters..

Like last year when the tournament claimed a number of name players, this year's toll could again be high again with Cronulla's Nu Brown forced off with what looked like a serious knee injury.

Teammate Kaysa Pritchard could also be sidelined after tearing his pectoral in the club's first group game against Manly, while Parramatta pair Kenny Edwards (knee) and Brad Takairangi (knee) both had their tournaments ended by minor ailments.

Young Roosters enforcer Dylan Napa meanwhile was placed on report for a swinging arm in the Roosters semi-final loss to Cronulla.

BEST COMEBACK WIN:

Canberra take this one courtesy of their stunning 23-19 escape against local favourites the Warriors who looked to have the game in the bag until Tevita Pangai, Brenko and finally Jack Ahearn all scored in the dying minutes.

MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER:

Brisbane's star recruit Anthony Milford who, despite coach Wayne Bennett naming a largely inexperienced side, lacked the spark and razzle dazzle you would expect from a player touted among the most exciting in the NRL. Teammate Kodi Nikorima looked far more dangerous with the ball in hand.

STANDOUT PERFORMERS:

Adam Reynolds (Souths), Chris Sandow (Eels), Mitchell Pearce (Roosters), Corey Norman (Eels), Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys).



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