The South Sydney Rabbitohs have tonight (Monday) kept the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks scoreless in their 18-0 victory in the Shire – keeping a side scoreless for the first time in 15 years.
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The Rabbitohs last kept a side scoreless in round 18 of the 1999 season against the Penrith Panthers when they won 20-0. Missing Origin players Greg Inglis, Chris McQueen and Ben Te’o, the Rabbitohs turned on a brilliant defensive effort to record the historic win.
Kyle Turner gave the Rabbitohs an early attacking opportunity when he charged down Cronulla’s final tackle kick attempt before regathering, but the side was unable to capitalise with points.
The Rabbitohs dominated the opening exchanges in both attack and defence, but with just under 20 minutes gone in the first half, the Rabbitohs were still unable to score. Alex Johnston came close in an identical play that saw him score against the Broncos off an Adam Reynolds kick, but the young gun’s foot went over the touch-line.
The Sharks looked to score after 19 minutes when Bryce Gibbs pounced on a grubber-kick into the in-goal, but the video-referee deemed that the Sharks forward was off-side.
A massive tackle from Apisai Koroisau on the Sharks defence saw the ball spill loose inside their own ten metre line, with George Burgess picking up the loose ball, giving the Rabbits another chance to attack.
The result was immediate, with Sam Burgess getting on the outside of the Cronulla defence and slamming the ball down to open the scoring right on the 20 minute mark. Adam Reynolds converted 15 metres in from touch to make it 6-0.
With the clock winding down in the first half, the Sharks mounted pressure on the Rabbitohs in consecutive sets, but the Rabbits were about to turn defence into attack. With a cross-field kick going to the wing, the Sharks knocked on in the contest with Alex Johnston picking the ball up before racing 100 metres to seemingly score. The video referee ruled against the try, bringing the ball back to the 20 metre mark for a Rabbitohs re-start.
From the ensuing set, Souths were awarded a penalty right in front of the sticks for Adam Reynolds to boot the side a further two points ahead – the team’s going into the sheds with the Rabbitohs leading 8-0.
On the resumption, the two sides traded blows and opportunities with the likes of Nathan Merritt proving vital in diffusing a blitzkrieg of high-balls. Alex Johnston also managed create plenty of pressure for the home-side – forcing a mistake from the Sharks as they looked certain to score from a break.
Just minutes later, a Joel Reddy offload allowed Dylan Walker to break through, drawing the last line Cronulla defence before passing on to fellow centre Kirisome Auva’a who streaked the remaining 40 metres to score. Adam Reynolds missed the conversion leaving the score at 12-0 with 23 minutes remaining.
Cameron McInnes then added his name to the score-sheet with a sneaky run from dummy-half – catching the Sharks defence napping to score under the posts. Reynolds made no mistake with the conversion to make it 18-0.
With the clock winding down, Cronulla threw everything they had at the men in red and green, receiving a string of back to back sets. But the Rabbitohs defence held strong to grab the 18-0 win.
Rabbitohs 18 (Sam Burgess, Kirisome Auva’a, Cameron McInnes, tries; Adam Reynolds 3 goals)