Gold Coast Titans 18: (Anthony Don 2, Dave Taylor tries; Aidan Sezer 3 goals)
South Sydney Rabbitohs 40: (Dylan Walker 4, Alex Johnston 2, Kirisome Auva’a tries; Bryson Goodwin 4, Adam Reynolds 2 goals)
The South Sydney Rabbitohs have sounded a loud warning to NRL rivals that they are back in the premiership race by belting the Gold Coast Titans side 40-18 at CBUS Stadium in front of a strong crowd of 19 107.
The Titans had an equal share of the competition lead before the game, but were outclassed by a rampant Rabbitohs outfit.
It was a disappointing display by the home side, who were almost out of the contest by the twenty minute mark, as the Rabbitohs scored greater than a point a minute in a blistering start to the contest.
While the Titans defence has been brittle at times, the worrying sign for the Gold Coast side in this encounter was their attack, with the quicker men not trying to test the big Rabbitohs forwards, choosing instead to play from side to side, a tactic that at times made them very few metres as the Rabbitohs defence slid with them.
For the Rabbitohs, it seemed scoring out wide was far less of a problem, with Dylan Walker claiming four tries.
To make matters worse for the Titans, Greg Bird was placed on report for a lifting tackle on Bryson Goodwin that has put his Origin aspirations in jeopardy.
The Rabbitohs have their own concerns; Adam Reynolds leaving the field with a concussion after falling awkwardly while making a tackle, while fullback Greg Inglis seemed to be hampered by a leg injury throughout the contest.
The rot started for the Titans in the Rabbitohs’ first set of the game, when Dylan Walker found space by shrugging of the defence, finding a speedy Kirisome Auva’a who offloaded back to Walker to open the scoring in the 2nd minute.
In the 7th minute, Auva’a then got a try of his own when he collected a John Sutton chip near the line, scooting past Titans defenders to stretch out and plant the ball down to take the lead to 12-nil.
Before some of the crowd had found their seat, the South Sydney side found their third try, when Walker used the marker as a shield from the defence, scooting over out wide.
An Inglis bust created further points for the Rabbitohs when he offloaded to Reynolds, the half back drawing the last man before passing to winger Alex Johnston to score and stretch the lead to 22-nil after just 16 minutes of play.
The Titans looked stretched again in the 25th minute of the game when John Sutton threw a looping pass intended for Bryson Goodwin that instead found Titans winger Anthony Don, who ran 60m to score the Titans’ first try of the game.
And, having slowed the Rabbitohs’ momentum, the Titans then looked to continue their comeback when Don scored again on the stroke of half time, plucking An Albert Kelly crossfield bomb out of the air, to have the score line at 22-12 at the break.
The Rabbitohs to regained their composure after half time and almost extended their advantage when Reynolds received the ball on the last, putting in a grubber kick that Dylan Walker easily won the race for, planting the pill down for a 28-12 lead.
Two offloads lead to further tries for the South Sydney outfit, one from Inglis to give Walker his fourth four pointer of the night and another from George Burgess to Bryson Goodwin after Burgess had charged through the Titans’ defence.
And while the Titans scored on full time through Dave Taylor, it was nothing more than a consolation effort, the side well beaten and needing to do some soul searching before facing Queensland rivals, the Brisbane Broncos next round.