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The Roosters have hit back from last weeks horror loss to Cronulla despite being without their Origin stars in a thrilling 14-12 win over old rivals Souths Sydney at Allianz Stadium on Friday night.

Having taken an 8-0 lead to the break the Tricolours had to withstand a resurgent Bunnies outfit in a second half in which they also suffered injury concerns to fullback Michael Gordon (shoulder) and utility Connor Watson (back).

Stand-in half Mitch Cornish did a wonderful job in the absence of Blues half Mitch Pearce, promoted to the starting side in place of Watson, launching a series of pinpoint bombs and involving himself heavily in attacking plays while combining well with five-eighth Luke Keary.

A powerful opening stint from Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (20 tackles and 138 metres in the first half) also helped lay the platform for their half-time advantage.

The Bunnies found the going far tougher early on than in a runaway win over Penrith last week and looked frantic and erratic at times.

‌First points came in the 19th minute when Roosters centre Joey Manu dived over on a well-placed Jake Friend grubber to the Souths in-goal while fullback Michael Gordon added the two, and a further two from a penalty goal five minutes later.

Despite a few attacking chances later in the half, Souths were unable to open their account before the break.

A mountain of possession in attacking position early in the second half finally told on the Roosters when Robbie Farah dived over from dummy half.

A 40/20 from Adam Reynolds shortly after came to nothing as Souths produced an error in the ensuing attacking set and instead it was the Roosters who skipped away again when Aidan Guerra latched onto a Jake Friend cut-out across the posts at the Souths line.

Their eight-point buffer didn't last long however; a jinking, tackle-busting cross-field run from Angus Crichton sent Bryson Goodwin into half a gap and the Leigh-bound centre did wonderfully well to brush through Luke Keary and make his way to the line for a 14-12 score-line with just over 10 minutes remaining.

The Roosters then lost Watson in the 70th minute after he copped a stray shoulder from teammate Isaac Liu in the back in a tackle but he returned just four minutes later to replace Gordon at fullback when the former Panther, Shark and Eel came off with his left arm hanging limply.

The Rabbitohs sniffed their chance and threw everything at the Roosters in a frantic final five minutes but the Tricolours defence found a way to cling to their slender lead until the final siren.

Sydney Roosters 14 (Manu, Guerra tries; Gordon 3 goals) defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 12 (Farah, Goodwin tries; Reynolds 2 goals) at Allianz Stadium. Half-time: Roosters 8-0. Crowd: 16,245.

This article first appeared on NRL.COM

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Sydney Roosters respect and honour 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.