Rabbitohs Slay Dragons in Round 20, 2012
Saturday 21 July 2012 9:30 PM
The South Sydney Rabbitohs have solidified their position in the NRL's top four with a commanding 36 points to 14 victory over the St George Illawarra Dragons at ANZ Stadium tonight (Saturday).
21,071 Members and supporters turned out for the Rabbitohs Members Appreciation Game, and were repaid with seven tries from the men in red and green including a hat trick to try scoring machine Nathan Merritt.
The Rabbitohs now sit equal second alongside the Melbourne Storm on the competition ladder, only two points behind the Bulldogs who sit at the top of the tree on 30 competition points.
South Sydney struck first in only the second minute of the match with the Club's leading try scorer Andrew Everingham crossing in the right hand corner. Five-eighth John Sutton busted the Dragons open up the middle and threw a long pass to the right to find centre Dylan Farrell, who in turn found Everingham for the try. Adam Reynolds converted from out wide to give the Rabbitohs an early six-nil lead.
That lead was extended seven minutes later when Merritt crossed for his first try of the night. The Dragons were putting the Rabbitohs under pressure but lost the ball, with Farrell scooping it up. He put Everingham away on a 60 metre charge down field. On the next play, the ball found Merritt on the left wing, scoring against the run of play in the left hand corner.
The Rabbitohs blew a certain scoring opportunity in the 14th minute and Dragons winger Daniel Vidot was held up over the line in the 16th minute. The Dragons scored on that set through Brett Morris, reducing the deficit to six points.
Both sides were throwing everything they had at each other in what was proving to be a brutal and sometimes spiteful affair.
The Rabbitohs were next to score, Merritt crossing for his second try in the 26th minute. A cross field found a flying Greg Inglis, who guided the ball back to Merritt. Merritt grubber kicked behind the defensive line and chased it through to score a remarkable try. Reynolds converted to give the Rabbitohs a 16-4 advantage.
In the 33rd minute of play, Inglis charged through on Dragons replacement forward Dean Young, hitting him with a solid shoulder charge that left him concussed. A fight broke out after the hit, with Dragons front rower Trent Merrin punching Dylan Farrell who was stuck on the ground underneath the motionless Young. Inglis was placed on report and the incident will be reviewed by the match review committee.
Four minutes later, it was Inglis again who proved to be the protagonist when he unbelievably held Dragons centre Chase Stanley up over the line. Stanley was certain to score, but 'GI' brought him down short of the line, rolling him onto his back and getting his arm, then his leg under the ball to prevent Stanley from scoring.
At 16-4 up at the break, the Rabbitohs would have been pleased with their efforts, but an equally solid performance would be needed in the second half to stop a Dragons side desperate to stay in touch with the top eight.
...And didn't the mighty Rabbitohs deliver!
Another Red V try was thwarted when Jake Marketo was held up over the line and the Rabbitohs forced a knock on from the next play.
Dragons replacement forward Josh Miller collected Rabbitohs front rower Sam Burgess in high tackle which was put on report in the 51st minute.
Inglis was the next to score in the 54th minute, slicing through the Dragons' defence with ease from 40 metres out, putting on the after burners and leaving the Dragons' players in his wake on his way to the line. The only way to describe the run is 'poetry in motion', as Inglis pointed to the rabbit over his heart after touching down.
The Rabbitohs were muscling in defence in the second 40 minutes, dishing out some big hits in the third quarter.
It paid dividends when centre Matt King crossed for the Rabbitohs' fifth try in the 62nd minute, a good, hard, straight run from 10 metres out and bouncing out of two tackles and spinning out of a third to score. Reynolds converted to extend the lead to 26-4.
The Dragons pegged one back when Ben Creagh crossed in the 65th minute, but it would not take long for South Sydney to reply in kind.
This time it was John Sutton scoring the points, sliding through from ten metres out to score and take the score past 30 on the Rabbitohs' side of the ledger.
The Dragons scored their final try in the 75th minute through representative winger Morris, but again, the Rabbitohs were not finished.
It was that man Nathan Merritt crossing for his third try in the 77th minute that put the biggest smile on every Rabbitohs Member's face, crossing from close range record another hat trick in his illustrious career. The Rabbitohs received the good field position after Reynolds made a long break from an intercept, and it was he that added the extras, finalising the scores at 36-14 in favour of the good guys.
The Rabbitohs turned in an all round solid performance and will be looking to do the same next Sunday afternoon at 3pm at ANZ Stadium as their focus turns to the battle with the Wests Tigers at the Club's Junior Appreciation Game.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 36 (Nathan Merritt 3, Andrew Everingham, Greg Inglis, Matt King, John Sutton tries; Adam Reynolds 4 goals)
St George Illawarra Dragons 14 (Brett Morris 2, Ben Creagh tries; Jamie Soward goal)