The South Sydney Rabbitohs have retained the Charity Shield tonight (Saturday) after accounting for the St George Illawarra Dragons by 38-20.
In the first Charity Shield to ever be played outside of Sydney, the Rabitohs put in a polished performance to come away with the victory, despite missing regular halfback Adam Reynolds, while also not having the services of Greg Inglis for much of the game.
The game started poorly for the Rabbitohs when Dylan Walker sailed the kick-off over the dead-ball line on the full, giving the Dragons early possession. But despite four repeat sets on the Rabbitohs line, the men in red and green held strong to keep the Saints at bay.
The defence proved to be vital when Souths were able to score off their first real attacking opportunity of the match – Beau Champion finishing off a bizarre movement after a Sam Burgess kick. Bryson Goodwin added the extras from out wide to give the Rabbitohs an early 6-0 lead.
Saints’ promise in the early stages of the match began to seem a distant memory after former Rabbitoh Dylan Farrell’s kick-off also sailed over the dead-ball line, gifting Souths field position. Souths capitalised immediately through Bryson Goodwin who bagged a converted try off the back of some great lead-up work from Sutton and Dylan Walker.
The Dragons then bombed an opportunity when Gareth Widdop threw a bullet-like pass to an unmarked Brett Morris for a certain try, but the winger couldn’t hold onto the pill.
But the poor execution wasn’t confined to the Saints. Dylan Walker failing to find touch from a penalty again gifted the Dragons field position, but this time they made no mistake – Jason Nightingale finishing off a backline movement to score in the corner.
With just under 15 minutes remaining in the first half, Greg Inglis kicked into gear to link up with Lote Tuqiri, who raced 30 metres to score in the corner. Goodwin failed to convert the try leaving the score at 16-4.
Shortly after, John Sutton showed his halfback skills with a double-pump and a short ball to Joe Picker at close range for the former Raider to race in under the posts. Goodwin added the extras to make it 22-4 going into half-time.
After the break, Rabbitohs fans held their breath as Greg Inglis stayed down after a head-clash with Dragons playe Dan Huntr. Inglis left the field, but from the very next play, John Sutton put in a cross-field kick for Chris McQueen to touch down in the in-goal to make it 26-4.
Souths went on with the job when Issac Luke scored a sneaky try from dummy-half under the sticks. Goodwin converted to make it 32-4 in the red and green’s favour.
With just over 22 minutes in the match remaining, George Burgess added his name to the score-card in typical fashion under the sticks, taking Josh Dugan out of the match in the process with a knee injury when the larger George hit his head against Dugan's knee. Goodwin converted to make the score 38-4.
The Dragons weren’t dead yet though, with a sharp backline movement splitting the Rabbitohs’ defence to allow Peter Mata’utia to score virtually untouched. They backed it up with another try to Adam Quinlan, who took a beautiful pass from Jack de Belin to score. Gareth Widdop converted to make it 38-14.
Mata’utia bagged his second of the match with just two minutes remaining for the Dragons with Gareth Widdop converting to bring the final score to 38-20.
Rabbitohs 38 (Beau Champion, Bryson Goodwin, Lote Tuqiri, Joe Picker, Chris McQueen, Issac Luke, tries; Bryson Goodwin 5 goals)
Dragons 20 (Jason Nightingale, Peter Mata’utia, Adam Quinlan tries; Gareth Widdop 2 goals)