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The South Sydney Rabbitohs could not breach a renewed Newcastle Knights defensive line often enough to take the win in tonight's Coffs Harbour trial match, with the Knights taking an 18-6 victory.

It was a very tight affair over the entire 80 minutes, the Knights scored three tries to one at a soggy BCU International Stadium.

It was a tight opening to the match, with both teams having opportunities to attack in the opposition's end, but it was the Knights who would score the only points of the first half through hooker Matt Hilder. Hilder dived over from dummy half and Kurt Gidley converted to take the scores to six-nil after ten minutes.

Rabbitohs fullback Greg Inglis was strong throughout the first quarter, returning the ball with gusto, putting his side on the front foot.

The second quarter was an arm wrestle, with the Knights' ill-discipline giving the Rabbitohs the upper hand on more than one occasion. Unfortunately the Rabbitohs could not cross the stripe and register any points, despite having a majority for the ball for the second stanza.

Willie Mason and Jeremy Smith were placed on report in the 32nd minute for a dangerous lifting tackle on Dave Tyrrell.

Kyle Turner stood tall for the Rabbitohs in the second quarter, pulling off a big tackle on Akuila Uate which rattled him in the 34th minute, and making some strong runs for good metres, but the Knights' first half defensive effort left them with a clean score sheet after 40 minutes.

The Knights wheeled out a completely fresh team for the third quarter, with the Rabbitohs also making a few changes. Centre Beau Champion took the field for the first time since returning to his home Club.

The Rabbitohs were working extremely hard, but for little reward. Michael Crocker and George Burgess were working very hard in both attack and defence, with Nathan Merritt pulling off a try saving tackle at fullback on former team mate David Fa'alogo.

The Knights would score their second try of the match in the 56th minute through halfback Tyrone Roberts, who scored a fortuitous four-pointer, picking up a loose grubber kick in the in-goal. Roberts converted his own try to take the score line to 12-nil.

The Rabbitohs mounted a late attacking raid in the 59th minute when young Dylan Walker made a huge break up the left hand fringe. Bryson Goodwin backed him up, but the next offload hit the deck to thwart the attacking opportunity.

The fourth quarter saw the Rabbitohs lift the tempo of the game, off the back of hooker Apisai Koroisau and five-eighth Luke Keary.

Four minutes into the final stanza, it was Koroirsau that posted the Rabbitohs' try, scooting out from dummy half to score from close range. The Rabbitohs' field position was set up big Tom Burgess who made a big break up the middle of the field in the initial plays of the set.

Adam Reynolds converted to take the score line to 12-6.

The Rabbitohs mounted another couple of attacking plays, one which saw young Dylan Walker, playing at centre, make a huge break through the right side defence of the Knights. Walker found Bryson Goodwin who could not make the last pass stick, trying to return the ball to Walker to score.

Goodwin would also go close again when he broked the line down the left again, with a desperate ankle tap bringing him down with open field in front of him.

Keary also went close when he took on the line on the last tackle of a set, only to be brought down centimetres short.

The Knights scored their final try in the last minute of the match, with Roberts on the end of a series of hot potato passes, catching the Rabbitohs short on the left. Peter Mata'utia converted to take the final score to 18-6 in favour of the Knights.

The Rabbitohs worked very hard in both attack and defence, but looked a little flat with ball in hand. Their defensive effort was strong, but there are areas which Head Coach Michael Maguire will want to work on before taking on the St George Illawarra Dragons in Friday night's Charity Shield.

Coach Maguire said after the match: "We've got a bit of work to do in areas of our game, but I had a number of combinations throughout that game as well which sort of disrupted a few things.

"But that's no excuse for the areas of our game where we can improve.

"They hung onto the ball much than what we did.

"We were in and out of the game and our completion rates didn't help us.

"The dropped ball helped Newcastle build a lot pressure, but I was just pleased that we got through without any injuries.

"That was our first hit out as trial with our senior players, so everyone got through healthy which is a real positive for us."

Captain Michael Crocker said: "It was very valuable. We're obviously working on a lot of different combinations but like 'Madgic' said, we were very rusty and didn't execute and play to our standards, so we're disappointed in that.

"Now we can look forward to the Charity Shield and to look back over this game and work on it."

Newcastle Knights 18 (Tyrone Roberts 2, Matt Hilder tries; Kurt Gidley, Tyrone Roberts, Peter Mata'utia goals)


South Sydney Rabbitohs 6 (Apisai Koroisau try; Adam Reynolds goal)

The Rabbitohs Holden Cup side have put in a brilliant defensive effort to restrict the Sharks to one try in their trial game at Erskineville Oval today.

The trial was played in three-25 minute periods, with plenty of players seeing action.

The Rabbitohs struck early through impressive fullback Will Paterson when he crashed over from close range in the opening minutes.

His try was cancelled out minutes later, neither side opting to attempt conversions.

Souths addded two more tries in the second period, the first of those a brilliant grubber by halfback Christian Hazard which was fielded by centre Tyrone Phillips.

Will Paterson soon had his second try when he beat his outside man from ten metres out and carried a couple of defenders over.

Joseph Nakhoul scored the only try of the third period when Brad Wall popped through a rolling ball and Nakhoul dived on it in the left hand corner.

The Rabbitohs' defence was particularly impressive with Cameron McInnes and Brad Croad getting through plenty of work in the middle and prop Daniel Smith proving he'll be a handful this season.

Rabbitohs 16 (Will Paterson 2, Tyrone Phillips, Joseph Nakhoul tries)


Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 4 (one try)
Acknowledgement of Country

South Sydney Rabbitohs respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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