The South Sydney Rabbitohs have claimed a deserving 24-18 victory to claim their eighth consecutive win against the Newcastle Knights in front of a 15,212 crowd at McDonald Jones Stadium tonight (Saturday).
The game had heart and aggression from the get-go, with players amped up for what was the first encounter for the 2017 season.
The Rabbitohs would register the first points of the match with Alex Johnston charging over the try line after faking a dummy pass off the back of a slick backline play. Adam Reynolds conversion attempt failed to find the mark with his boot struggling with the windy conditions. The Rabbitohs led four points to zero.
The Knights struggled to find their rhythm and keep up with the fast pace of the game, conceding three penalties in the first 20 mins. The Rabbitohs capitalised on the opportunities with John Sutton sneaking through the home sides defence and finding the line. Reynolds made up for his previous missed conversion slotting the ball straight through the uprights taking the Rabbitohs into a 10 point lead.
However the Rabbitohs were quick to catch up the Knights penalty count with the first fault occurring when George Burgess got sent to the sin bin in the 23rd minute. Skipper Sam Burgess would be the next to have a penalty against him for stripping the ball.
The Knights made the most of the Rabbitohs position with one less player on the field and found the line to seal their first four-pointer through Captain Trent Hodkinson. Hodkinson’s successful conversion of his own try would narrow the Rabbitohs lead 10 points to six.
To say the game was a physical encounter would be an understatement with both teams ramping up their determination to chase their second wins for the season. The aggressive play by the Rabbitohs would again show with Hymel Hunt put on report due to a high tackle.
The Knights would rub salt into the wound moments later finding the try line for the second time and levelling the scores 10 points all.
It wasn’t until just before halftime that the Knights would bring their side into the lead after taking a shot at goal after Zane Musgrove was penalised for putting pressure on the kicker. Despite the Knights two point lead, the Rabbitohs kept up their determination firing over the line on the halftime buzzer but after going to the video referee and labelled a no try, the Rabbitohs would run into the sheds trailing 10 points to 12.
The second half would see the Rabbitohs come out firing scoring in the opening minutes when a well place grubber from Cody Walker fell into the fast paced running line of Bryson Goodwin. The extra points would be added by Reynolds and the Rabbitohs took over the lead 16 points to 12.
The Rabbitohs would extend their lead further when Reynolds showed his experience of the game reading the play and sending a high ball pass out wide to Braidon Burns who would fly over for his first NRL try. Reynolds sealed the try with a successful conversion bring the score up 22 points to 12.
Another call to the video referee would see a second no try call made against the Rabbitohs after a grubber by Walker bounced off the goal posts and into goal yet was knocked on by Angus Crichton.
The second sin bin ruling would this time be made against the Knights with Captain Trent Hodkinson sent off after exchanging words with the referee following a rewarded penalty to the Rabbitohs.
The Knights then began to lose their composure and the Rabbitohs were given a shot at adding two more points to the board through another penalty. Reynolds kicking boot slotted the ball through the posts extending the Rabbitohs lead 24 points to 12.
The Knights would be the last to add points for the night when they were rewarded a try in the last few minutes. The successful conversion wasn't enough to catch the visitors and the Rabbitohs came out on top 24 points to 18.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 24 (Alex Johnston 1, John Sutton 1, Bryson Goodwin 1, Braidon Burns 1 tries; Adam Reynolds 4 goals)
Newcastle Knights 18 (Trent Hodkinson 1, Peter Mata’utia 1, Ken Sio 1 tries; Trent Hodkinson 2, Brock Lamb 1 goals)