MATCH REPORT | South Sydney Rabbitohs 20-16 St George Illawarra Dragons

The long time rivals in South Sydney and St George Illawarra clash tonight in a match with both sides showing contrasting form. 

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MATCH DETAILS

The Dragons started the match with much more intent than their previous encounters. Their attack consisted of some offloads and long shifts and their edge defence managed to hold on. South Sydney used every bit of their possession early on to target the right side of the Dragons and came close a couple of times. Their attacks were thwarted by an error and a forward pass. Both teams got through their sets and created plenty of opportunities but could only trade penalty goals inside the first thirty minutes of play. The Dragons gave South Sydney decent position with some poor fifth tackle options and with an extra set on the line, South Sydney were able to cross for the first try of the match. The points came through Dane Gagai on the right wing, after Codi Walker come across to join the backline. The closing stages of the half went set-for-set and the Rabbitohs were unable to extend their 6-2 lead before halftime, with a fading Dragons side.

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Cody Walker was a constant threat in the first half but couldn’t find the line. Yet after a mistake from the Dragons presented South Sydney with the first opportunity of the half, Cody Walker crashed over within the first three minutes of the second half. His decision to run the ball on the last caught the Dragons by surprise and his footwork close to the line was too hard to handle. The Dragons came close to grabbing some momentum back with a try to Ben Hunt but it was called back with the half promoting the ball after being held. Ben Hunt’s next major involvement came by a poor short drop out, which rolled across the face of goal. Souths took a tap and from that set scored out wide again through Dane Gagai off an easy back line movement. South Sydney started finding plenty of gaps in the Dragons defence and came close to putting the match to bed. The Dragons teenage debutant scored the first try of his career from a Gareth Widdop grubber kick. The sideline conversion brought the Dragons back within six inside the final fifteen minutes. But with the Dragons lifting, South Sydney’s starting pack returned to the field and they went up a gear, earning themselves back-to-back sets. But when Reynolds looked to kick a field goal, McInnes not only made the effort to charge the ball down but also beat two South Sydney players to get possession. From the next play they shifted out to the right and Jason Saab crossed for his second, with Widdop’s successful conversion locking the scores up. A long range penalty goal gave the Dragons the lead but Souths regained possession from the kick off. They spread the ball wide a few times and on the final play, Braidon Burns got outside his centre, drawing in the winger, which allowed him to pass to an unmarked Campbell Graham for the winner. South Sydney somehow stealing a victory in a match that they appeared to be in complete control of by 20-16.

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FOUR POINTERS

BURGESS BACK

Souths recent wining streak has come without three of their biggest and most influential forwards. Tonight’s match was the return of one of the Burgess brothers with Tom. He added size to the pack, which was felt in both attack and defence and was a handful for a Dragons side that started to the feel the pinch as the match went on.

CODY WALKER IMPRESSES

Cody Walker stood up in this match and wanted the ball nearly two times each set of six. He came close a few times to either scoring or setting up a try on the left flank in the first half but it wasn’t until he popped up on the other side of the field that he provided for Dane Gagai. He exploded out of the gate in the second half by scoring the first try and continued to look threatening all night long.

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SOUTHS COULD RUE MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

Souths came within seconds of losing a match they were in complete control of. The previous week against the Cowboys they were down until the final ten minutes. This is a part of a match they will be looking to get out of their match heading into finals football.

DRAGONS IMPROVING

The Dragons refused to fold in this match but it still wasn’t good enough. Off the back of some big efforts from Cameron McInnes and Gareth Widdop, they were able to hit the front with a minute left but just couldn’t hold on. The team will be shattered by the loss but will be glad that they kept competing despite being out of the contest for most of the second half.

THE RESULT

South Sydney Rabbitohs 20
Tries: Dane Gagai 2, Cody Walker, Campbell Graham
Goals: Adam Reynolds 2/5

St George Illawarra Dragons 16
Tries: Jason Saab 2
Goals: Gareth Widdop 4/4

SQUADS

South Sydney Rabbitohs: 1. Adam Doueihi 2. Dane Gagai 3. James Roberts 4. Braidon Burns 5. Campbell Graham 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 21. Thomas Burgess 11. John Sutton 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Cameron Murray INTERCHANGE: 10. Dean Britt 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Jaydn Su’A 17. Kyle Turner 

St George Illawarra Dragons: 1. Corey Norman 2. Jason Saab 3. Euan Aitken 4. Timoteo Lafai 5. Zac Lomax 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Ben Hunt 8. Blake Lawrie 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tariq Sims 13. James Graham INTERCHANGE: 14. Josh Kerr 15. Korbin Sims 16. Matthew Dufty 17. Luciano Leilua 

 

 

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