Sharks Too Strong at Home for Rabbitohs - Round 24, 2012
Saturday 18 August 2012 9:30 PM
The South Sydney Rabbitohs have gone down to the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Toyota Stadium tonight (Saturday), with the home side registering a 20 points to 7 win in round 24 of the Telstra Premiership.
The Rabbitohs held a slender 7-6 lead with 14 minutes to go, but the Sharks made the most of their dominance of field position to record the win.
The game could not have started in worse fashion for the Rabbitohs with Dave Taylor taking the kick off into touch in goal resulting in a drop out. However on the third tackle of the game the Sharks made an error and the Rabbitohs breathed a sigh of relief.
The Sharks had the best of the ball over the opening ten minutes, however they could not finish off their sets and opportunities, blowing three try-scoring opportunities.
The high intensity in both attack and defence from both sides continued over the opening 15 minutes, and it was not until the 19th minute that a side's defensive line broke, the Sharks' Andrew Fifita crashing over next to the posts from an inside ball from Jeff Robson. Todd Carney converted to give the home side a six-nil lead.
The Sharks continued to have the better of the running with Paul Gallen's offloads hurting South Sydney.
Todd Carney had an opportunity to extend the lead to eight with a simple penalty goal, but the kick was waved away in the 24th minute.
From the 20-metre drop out, Fifita made an error giving the Rabbitohs some much needed field position, but no points came from it.
The Sharks were peppering the Rabbitohs' left side defence, with Carney continually throwing long passes to the right, trying to get outside the Rabbitohs' oft-compressed defensive line. Souths were good enough to shut down these raids and the score remained at six-nil.
The Rabbitohs found good field position again in the 34th minute when Dave Taylor performed a one-on-one strip mid-field, then the Rabbitohs received a penalty for a Sharks' attempted strip in that set of six. An error from Eddy Pettybourne thwarted the attacking raid, but the Rabbitohs were in the Sharks' end of the field for an extended period for the first time in the half.
The Rabbitohs received two repeat sets in the final two minutes of the half thanks to pin point final kicks from halfback Adam Reynolds, forcing the Sharks to knock the ball dead in goal. However, the Rabbitohs could not breach the Sharks' line and the teams went into the half time break with the home side leading six-nil.
South Sydney was struggling to mount consistent pressure due to a lack of quality field position over the opening 40 minutes, but both teams were playing high-intensity football in an entertaining game.
The Rabbitohs were on the back foot from the get-go in the second half, a Ben Lowe high tackle penalty putting the Rabbitohs on the defensive in their own end. They managed to hold out the Sharks, but they were under pressure again.
A dropped ball from Sam Burgess ten metres from his own line also hurt, but again, the Rabbitohs repelled the men from 'The Shire'.
Burgess made up for his error in the 54th minute when he scored the Rabbitohs' first points. Souths received a penalty and therefore a repeat set deep in Cronulla territory. The ball went left to Sutton, who turned Sam Burgess back underneath him. He ran across field in front of the posts, then straightened, beating three defenders on his way to the goal line and a try beside the posts. Adam Reynolds' conversion levelled the scores at six-all.
The Rabbitohs had found another gear and were working the ball out well from their own end and creating some attacking opportunities. Greg Inglis, in his come back game, was getting the Rabbitohs' sets off to the right start from the back and chiming into the back line when he saw a good chance to do so, as well as helping out the forwards with some much-needed hit ups.
The 56th minute saw the Rabbitohs gain a good attacking position, only for Reynolds to make a simple error and kill off the raid on the Sharks' line.
Five-eighth John Sutton was also coming into his own in the second stanza, running the ball more and causing problems for the Sharks' defence.
Carney missed with a deadlock-breaking attempt at field goal in the 65th minute. Adam Reynolds returned serve one minute later with an ugly field goal attempt, with the video referee called in to adjudicate. The field goal was awarded, giving the Rabbitohs a one-point lead with 14 minutes left on the clock.
The Sharks struck back three minutes later when Tyson Frizell scored on the back of a penalty, Carney's conversion taking the scoreline to 12-7 in favour of the home side with ten minutes left in the game.
Cronulla camped themselves in South Sydney's end of the field for the next few sets, earning repeat sets and dominating the ball.
A penalty for stripping the ball led to a Todd Carney penalty goal in the 77th minute, giving the Sharks a 14-7 lead with three minutes left on the clock.
The Rabbitohs tried a short kick off but it did not come off, and the Sharks had good field position again. Carney missed another attempt at field goal with two minutes to go, meaning the Rabbitohs had to go the length of the field to stay in the contest. The ball was thrown around by the men in red and green, but eventually went into touch.
The Sharks added another try in the final minute when John Williams chased through an Isaac De Gois kick behind the line, with Carney's conversion taking the final scoreline to 20-7 in favour of the home side.
The Rabbitohs will now need to re-group before taking on the Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium next Sunday afternoon at 3pm in the penultimate round of the season proper.
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 20 (Andrew Fifita, Tyson Frizell, John Williams tries; Todd Carney 4 goals)
South Sydney Rabbitohs 7 (Sam Burgess try; Adam Reynolds goal; Adam Reynolds field goal)