The South Sydney Rabbitohs NYC side grabbed a draw in their first trial match of the year against the Cronulla Sharks at Erskineville Oval this afternoon (Friday) – the 300 odd rugby league starved fans in attendance being treated to a see-sawing match, finishing at five tries apiece.
Rabbitohs Coach Ben Gardiner was pleased with his side’s effort, particularly their goal-line defence.
“I was really happy with their effort,” said Gardiner.
“Particularly pleasing was our goal-line defence – considering that we didn’t do a good job of holding the ball.
“Obviously like all games of this nature, we have some improvement, but it was just really good to see the boys get out there and really compete.”
After a mistake riddled opening quarter, typical of a summer trial, the Rabbitohs found themselves down two tries to nil, despite a spirited effort late in the stanza on the Cronulla line that saw Souths come within inches of scoring.
Shortly after the drinks break, the red and greens returned serve through Cameron Moran, who broke through the Cronulla defence out wide to post first points for the home-side.
Poor ball-handling again let Souths down shortly afterwards, with Cronulla able to put sustained pressure on the red and greens before again crashing over under the sticks to make it three tries to one.
But just before half-time, the Rabbitohs hit back when Aaron Booth ducked under two Cronulla defenders before putting the ball over the line to narrow the gap to one try.
On the stroke of half-time, the Rabbitohs squared up the ledger when Devon Makoare-Boyce broke through the Cronulla line before sprinting 35 metres to score – evading three Sharks defenders in the process to make three tries apiece.
On the resumption, the Rabbitohs were the first to go in through Tim Davidson, who finished off a sharp backline movement to score out wide – Souths taking the lead for the first time in the match. But the revival lasted mere minutes when the Sharks tested the Rabbits close to the line and came up with another try to square the ledger at four tries apiece.
With the two sides locked in an arm-wrestle that saw both squander opportunities, a Rabbitohs knock on from a last tackle kick was enough for the Sharks to capitalise out wide to make it 5-4.
But the Rabbitohs’ Makoare-Boyce had other ideas – the energetic replacement putting on a vicious step before eventually scoring to level it all up at five tries all at full-time.
Despite the scrappiness of the game, Gardiner is certain that the quality of ball-control and fluidity will improve in the weeks leading up to round one.
“You tend to expect those sorts of things at this time of year – the drop balls and the like. But I’m confident that in the weeks leading into the first round, we’ll have improved.”
Rabbitohs try-scorers: Cameron Moran, Aaron Booth, Devon Makoare-Boyce 2, Tim Davidson