South Sydney Rabbitohs – 16
Tries: Aaron Gray (33m, 47m), Alex Johnston (58m).
Goals: Adam Reynolds 1/3 Conversions, 1/1 Penalties.
St George – Illawarra Dragons – 10
Tries: Gareth Widdop (19m), Jason Nightingale (38m).
Goals: Gareth Widdop 0/2 Conversions, 1/1 Penalties.
The Bunnies finally stemmed the bleeding, knocking off the Dragons to end their three match losing streak.
Things begun slowly as the two sides exchanged penalties through the boots of Adam Reynolds and Gareth Widdop, before Widdop opened the Dragons try scoring account in the 19th minute, apt reward for controlling the game early. Souths struck back in the 33rd minute through rookie Aaron Gray, the first try of his NRL career, before Jason Nightingale wrestled control back in the Dragons favour in the 38th minute to send us to the break with the Dragons leading 10-6. Fair indication of an encouraging Dragons effort where they reeled off around 200 metres more than the Bunnies, with seven offloads and three linebreaks.
The second half was all one way traffic on the scoreboard. Gray crossing for his second of the night in the 47th minute, followed by Johnston in the 58th for a second half score of 10-0 to send the Bunnies to a hard fought 16-10 win. There was plenty of quality on both ends however, Souths completing 18/20 sets, the Dragons 15/17, and the Dragons continued to ask questions right to the final whistle with nine offloads in the second-half and close to 700 metres.
There was plenty of reason for Blues Coach Laurie Daley to be happy, with two big name Origin hopefuls entering the contest under injury clouds, and both coming through with flying colours. Josh Dugan, not initially named after picking up a knee injury while playing for Australia last weekend, was the most dangerous player on the paddock, exceeding 200 metres, with seven tackle-breaks, three offloads and a line break. Adam Reynolds meanwhile, making a surprise return having not played since suffering a knee injury in the Good Friday debacle against the Bulldogs, was instrumental in the Rabbitohs success, particularly with his brilliant kicking game navigating the Bunnies around the field. Unsurprisingly, their losing streak came to a halt with the return of the brilliant halfback.
Despite the loss, the Dragons remain entrenched at the top end of the ladder, sitting in second while sharing a six win three loss record with the second placed Storm and fourth placed Cowboys. For Souths, the win begins to get their season back on track, they sit in sixth, sharing the same five and four record as the fifth placed Raiders. The Dragons retain the best defensive record in the competition, just 102 points conceded, 24 better than the next best defensive outfit the Storm.
NothingButLeague Man of the Match: Josh Dugan