CALLING on the oldest motivation in sport, Southcity produced a monumental recovery to swamp Young in the Group Nine minor semi-final at Equex Centre on Saturday
On the ropes after losing skipper Nick Skinner with a serious knee injury in the opening minutes, Southcity gave Young three tries head start before storming to a stunning 28-16 victory.
With Skinner carried off on a stretcher with a dislocated knee cap in the fifth minute, the Bulls trailed 16-0 at half-time, but blasted on five unwanswered tries in the second half to win in a landslide.
The remarkable success has kept the Bulls premiership hopes on the fire, while the fading defeat was a miserable end to the quest for the Cherrypickers.
As departing Young captain-coach Luke Branighan later praised Southcity for a “massive effort”, Bulls stand-in skipper Kyle McCarthy described his overwhelming admiration for his team.
“I’m so proud of all the boys,” McCarthy said on Saturday.
“We were in all sorts of trouble when we lost Nick (Skinner) and they (Young) led 16-0.
“Every player just rose to the occasion.”
For McCarthy, “pride in the jumper”, and respect of their injured captain-coach, were the basic foundations of the comeback of the year.
“We all wanted to do it for Nick and the club,” McCarthy said.
“Nick’s the coach, but he’s also a good mate.
“It was hard seeing him get hurt like that.
“That’s when pride in the (Southcity) jumper really made the difference.”
Hit for six by Skinner’s injury, the Bulls were also their own worst enemies in the first half.
Three times Southcity players got the ball across the try-line for absolutely no result.
In contrast, Young made the most of every chance to grab three tries in 25 minutes in the first session.
When Branighan kicked a 40x20, and then served up a pass 30 seconds later for Nick Hall to score in the 38th minute, the Cherrypickers seemed on their way to the preliminary final next Sunday.
Southcity, however, had other ideas.
Responding to McCarthy’s urging and inspirational performance, the Bulls turned the game on its head in the second half.
Brent Snowden got things started with a crashing try in the 50th minute before hooker Pani Manawatu grabbed another four minutes later with a dummy half lunge from short range.
Down 16-12, but with all the momentum, Southcity conjured a miracle try to winger Steven Kemp in the 64th minute.
After seven passes, two innocuous grubber kicks and the hint of a knock-on, Kemp got the Bulls level before McCarthy’s conversion got them in front.
With Young running on empty, Southcity reinforced their advantage when McCarthy burst over through a gaping hole and slotted the conversion in the 70th minute.
By the time Nathan Rose scooped up a loose ball in the 74th minute and sprinted 70 metres for a try the Bulls were home.
McCarthy was far and away the best on the ground, but Thomas Besgrove, Jack Lyons, Kade MacDonald, Snowden and Mitch Curran also deserved an accolade.
SOUTHCITY 28 (S Kemp, N Rose, K McCarthy, P Manawatu, B Snowden tries; K McCarthy 4 goals) d YOUNG 16 (T Samoa, N Hall, M Wakefield tries; N Thorman 2 goals) at Equex Centre. Scrums: 10-9. Penalties: 7-4. Gate: $6100
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