In a match played in torrid conditions, the South Sydney Rabbitohs have gone down to the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in Round 7 by 18-10 in front of a crowd of 3978 at Remondis Stadium.
With a gale-force wind of about 80km/h firmly behind them, the Sharks attacked the Rabbitohs’ line with little regard for the conditions – throwing the ball out the back-line before landing in the hands of Michael Gordon who opened the scoring for the home side.
A bizarre chain of events then saw the Rabbitohs turn a desperate final tackle option back into attack as Luke Keary knocked the ball backwards before Dylan Walker recovered by hoisting a dangerous mid-field bomb that was in-turn left to bounce by the Sharks. The Rabbitohs got the ball back and attacked again, but the side was unable to turn the opportunity into points.
The Sharks backed up their earlier effort when a Michael Ennis grubber from close range landed in the arms of Luke Lewis in the in-goal to score. Gordon added the extras to take the score to 10-0.
With nine minutes left in the opening stanza, the men in red and green attacked the Sharks’ short-side and finally came up with points – Alex Johnston finishing off what seemed to be a dry-weather back-line movement to score out wide. Issac Luke’s conversion attempt was off target in the wind, leaving the score at 10-4.
The huge ensuing kick-off saw a knock on from the Rabbitohs in-goal, gifting the Sharks possession deep in the half. But despite the opportunity, Maguire’s men held strong – the sides going to the break with the Sharks leading 10-4.
On the resumption, a Greg Inglis kick into the in-goal gifted the Rabbitohs a repeat set that would allow both Burgess brothers the chance to shine. Thomas Burgess put on a monster palm on a Sharks player to come within a whisker of scoring, before George looked to score from the very next play. But the video referee disallowed the try owing to a double-movement.
The Sharks would be next to register points though when a penalty within kicking distance allowed Valentine Holmes the chance to grab two points to make it 12-4.
But from the kick-off, it was Cronulla’s turn to drop the ball in the in-goal through Jack Bird – the Rabbitohs immediately going on the attack 10 metres from the Sharks line. Luke Keary then seized an opportunity by selling a dummy before kicking for a flying Chris McQueen to score adjacent to the posts. Issac Luke converted to narrow the gap to two points at 12-10.
McQueen almost grabbed his second mere minutes later, but the video referees found a knock-on earlier in the play to deprive the red and greens of the lead.
The two sides continued to rip into each other with wave after wave of attacking raids being stopped by pulverising defence. But the Sharks would again go on the front foot when Jayson Bukuya took a ricochet off Greg Inglis in the in-goal to grab a four-pointer. Holmes added the extras to make the final score 18-10.
Sharks 18 (Michael Gordon, Luke Lewis, Jayson Bukuya, tries; Michael Gordon 1, Valentine Holmes 2, goals)
Rabbitohs 10 (Alex Johnston, Chris McQueen, tries; Issac Luke 1 goal)