Cronulla Sharks: 0
South Sydney Rabbitohs: 18 (McInnes, S. Burgess, Auva’a Tries; Reynolds 2 conversions, 1 penalty)
Cronulla Shark’s hooker John Morris’ 300th NRL match has failed to have a fairy tale finish in Monday night football, with the Sharks being kept scoreless in an 18-nil loss to South Sydney Rabbitohs in front of 8137 fans at Remondis stadium.
The Sharks were always up against it missing a host of players including inspirational skipper Paul Gallen and creative half, Todd Carney, the assignment proved too much in what was a dour affair.
The opening to the game was an arm wrestle, with the Rabbitohs looking the most likely in a scrappy first twenty minutes.
In an immediate concern for the Sharks, the first two kick attempts from fill in five eight Daniel Holdsworth were charged down, giving the Rabbitohs solid field position however they couldn’t capitalise.
Bryce Gibbs attempted to claim the first try of the night for the Sharks, but replays showed the forward was well offside.
It took twenty minutes before Adam Reynolds through a short pass to Sam Burgess who showed strength and desire to brush past Jeff Robson and the sliding Cornulla defence to give the Rabbitohs first points.
The game again turned in to a war of attrition, with neither side gaining the upper hand in a contest being fought between two willing forward packs.
Souths looked to have extended their lead in the 36th minute when Alex Johnstone collected the scraps from a Sosaia Feki spill of an attacking bomb. Johnstone ran the length of the field to score under the posts, the video referee however denying him due to an accidental knock on in the lead up.
Reynolds kicked a penalty goal as half time neared to have the South Sydney side up 8-nil at the break.
The second half started in the same fashion as the opening of the first, with neither team able to find much attacking freedom and a number of dropped balls plaguing both teams.
The Rabbitohs were starting to dominate the field position but in the 53rd minute of play it was the Sharks who had a break.
Adam Reynolds put a grubber in, however it was blocked by Wade Graham’s foot, Jeff Robson swooping on the loose footy and setting off downfield. The chance came unstuck however when he tried to link with support Michael Gordon by throwing a speculative pass over his head to his support in Michael Gordon who couldn’t handle the football.
Just two minutes later, the Rabbitohs returned fire when a Joel Reddy offload allowed Dylan Walker to break through the Sharks line, the Souths centre drawing in Gordon before getting a pass to Kisirsome Auva’a who outpaced Jonathon Wright to extend the lead to 12-nil.
And in the 63rd minute of play, the Red and Green were in again when young interchange hooker Cameron McInnes caught the marker defense napping, diving over from close range to lock up the two points for his side.
A late flurry of possession to Cronulla did not allow the Sharks to get on the board, the Rabbitohs defense holding strong to record an 18-nil shut out.